Schoch, Richard W.
Schoch, Richard W.
Education: Georgetown University, B.Sc.; Stanford University, Ph.D.
Office—London, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Queen Mary, University of London, London, England, professor of history and culture, director of the Graduate School for Humanities and Social Sciences.
Fellowships from the American Society for Theatre Research, Folger Shakespeare Library, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Leverhulme trust, Stanford Humanities Center, and the Whiting Foundation; Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century was named an Outstanding Academic title by the American Library Association, 2003.
(Editor) Victorian Theatrical Burlesques, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2003.
Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2004.
The Secrets of Happiness: Three Thousand Years of Searching for the Good Life, Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to volumes, including The Cambridge History of British Theatre and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage; contributor to periodicals, including Nineteenth-Century Literature, Shakespeare Quarterly, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Survey.
Richard W. Schoch is a Shakespeare scholar whose books include Shakespeare's Victorian Stage: Performing History in the Theatre of Charles Kean. In this volume Schoch studies Kean's production of Shakespeare's history plays at London's Princess Theatre during the 1850s, with emphasis on King John, Richard II, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Michael R. Booth noted in Victorian Studies: "A lucid account of Kean's career and the Victorian nationalist fascination with and absorption in English history is followed by a detailed examination of Kean's histori- cism and his archacologically re-creative method of producing the past in relation to the new political importance of the Middle Ages." Meredith Anne Skura, in Studies in English Literature, wrote that the volume "strikes me as one of the most truly ‘cultural’ cultural studies I have seen recently."
Schoch continues his study of the performance of Shakespeare with Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century, which begins with his introduction titled "New Readings for Unconventional Tragedians." He alludes to the "burlesque backlash," the "comic attack upon the pious pretentions of ‘legitimate’ Shakespearean culture." Schoch notes plays that drew on those of Shakespeare for their comedy. Audiences were required to know the source material in order to understand the burlesques, and popular plays such as Hamlet were most often mimicked. Tragedies were especially adaptable. Shakespeare's original text is parodied, and characters take on different rolls. In the chapter titled "Vile Beyond Endurance: The Language of Burlesque," Schoch notes that in one production Othello is a street sweeper. In another Juliet's dog barks through the entire balcony scene. High-born characters become ordinary people; for example, Antonio of The Merchant of Venice is portrayed as a London fishmonger. Puns often came in rapid succession, and Schoch describes the successful use of them as "word torture."
Shakespeare Bulletin contributor Katherine West Scheil wrote: "In ‘Shakespeare's Surrogates,’ the second chapter, Schoch examines how these performances ‘theorized their relationship to so-called "legitimate" Shakespearean culture’ by claiming to rescue Shakespeare from ‘self-righteous Bardolators, pedantic literary critics, mediocre performers, and sensationalizing actor-managers.’" In the third chapter, "Shakespeare in Bohemia," Schoch studies the way in which burlesque "critiqued the middle-class cult of respectability." In the final chapter, "Politics ‘Burlesquified,’" Schoch focuses on how burlesques "imagined different political realities," using Shakespeare "as the means—not the object—of its parody."
Scheil concluded by writing that this volume "offers readers a peek at some wonderful texts, as well as some suggestions for how they functioned as cultural critiques in their own day. This is an enjoyable book to read, often more so for the primary texts than for the analysis."
In Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, Schoch writes of the queen's involvement with the theater. Previous to her reign, male royals tended to carry on affairs with actresses, thus putting theater in a negative light. The queen not only supported theater but in doing so reversed this perception. She liked all forms of theater, from opera, ballet, and Shakespeare to the theater of the lower classes, such as melodrama, and this patronage made a significant difference in the lives of her subjects. She was the first monarch to knight a theater performer when she did so in 1895 to Henry Irving. The study also provides an overview of the Victorian monarchy. A Contemporary Review contributor described the volume as being "stimulating, well researched and equally well written."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, April, 1999, R.A. Naversen, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage: Performing History in the Theatre of Charles Kean, p. 1468; July, 2002, D.B. Wilmeth, review of Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century, p. 1973; November, 2004, S.J. Blackstone, review of Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, p. 495.
Contemporary Review, October, 2004, review of Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, p. 253.
New Theatre Quarterly, August, 2000, Russell Jackson, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 303.
Nineteenth-Century Literature, March, 2000, Joseph Donohue, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 546; December, 2002, Edward Ziter, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 421; December, 2003, Jim Davis, review of Victorian Theatrical Burlesques, p. 423.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2003, review of Victorian Theatrical Burlesques, p. 231.
Shakespeare Bulletin, winter, 2004, Katherine West Scheil, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 155.
Shakespeare Quarterly, fall, 2000, Heather McPherson, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 386; spring, 2004, Michael Dobson, review of Not Shakespeare, pp. 107-108.
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, spring, 2000, Meredith Anne Skura, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 355.
Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 2004, John Bowen, review of Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, p. 36.
Theatre Journal, May, 2004, Christopher J. Markle, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 325.
Theatre Notebook, October, 2004, Gail Marshall, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 170; October, 2004, Kate Newey, review of Queen Victoria and the Theatre of Her Age, p. 169.
Theatre Survey, May, 1999, Cary M. Mazer, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 113; May, 2003, Cary M. Mazer, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 148.
Victorian Studies, winter, 2001, Michael R. Booth, review of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage, p. 365; spring, 2004, Tracy C. Davis, review of Not Shakespeare, p. 544.