the 1920s, a wave of postwar ebullience exploded into the Jazz Age, bringing
a new and unprecedented accent on youth and a generation that cast
the vestiges of Victorian culture and embraced new trends in art, music,
dance, poetry, fiction, and drama. The way was open for an actor who could
recapture and redefine the glamour, skill, and galvanizing presence of
an earlier day.
John Barrymore was such an actor, and his Richard III and Hamlet, first seen in New York during the 1919-20 and 1922-23 seasons, stand as high water marks of twentieth century Shakespearean interpretation. Many conventions of modern practice can be traced to Barrymore's performances: he was the first actor to bring the vocal and physical manner of a postwar gentleman to Shakespeare's tragic protagonists and was the first to reinterpret time-honored roles in light of Freudian psychology. His dynamic portrayals and the groundbreaking innovations of his production team, the director Arthur Hopkins and the designer Robert Edmond Jones, helped to revitalize Shakespearean acting and production in America and Great Britain and changed the direction of subsequent revivals.
This illustrated site, based on the book of the same title, is devoted to Barrymore's Shakespearean portrayals, his illustrious theatrical family, and his predecessors and successors from the time of Edwin Booth and Henry Irving to the age of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. Barrymore was an original, capable of electrifying audiences with the force and subtle brilliance of his acting. A colorful, complex, mercurial figure, his legendary performances made an extraordinary impression upon the playgoers of his generation. Welcome to those with an interest in the theatre, Shakespeare, and the art of acting--I hope you will enjoy exploring the John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor Web site.
Click here to see more than thirty photographs of John Barrymore, his Shakespearean predecessors and successors, his famed theatrical family, and his artistic associates.
Click here for a biographical article about John Barrymore's life and times.
Click here to check out the book's reviews.
to hear excerpts from Barrymore's acclaimed Hamlet.
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