Page:Richard II (1921) Yale.djvu/146

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134
The Life and Death of
 

1896 it has been in the repertory of Sir F. R. Benson's company, being played occasionally in London but chiefly in the provinces. An interesting performance of theirs was that at Flint Castle, August 21, 1899, just five hundred years after the historical events depicted.

In 1903 Sir Herbert Tree revived Richard II at His Majesty's Theatre, where it ran 107 nights, perhaps the only unquestionable success in its history. He also revived it for the Shakespearean festivals of 1905, 1906, and 1910, and played it in Berlin on his German tour in 1907. Less elaborate productions were those of William Poel for the Elizabethan Stage Society (November 11, 1899), Granville Barker playing the King, those of the Ben Greet Players, and of Miss Lillian Bayliss at the Royal Victoria Hall.

In America almost the only notable performances were those of Edwin Booth, who first brought it out at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, November 8, 1875. It was Richard II in which he was playing in Chicago, April 23, 1879, when a lunatic fired a revolver at him, barely missing his head. For the rest, Seilhamer records no production in colonial times; later American actors seem to have slighted the play; and visiting British actors preferred to include more certain favorites in their American repertories.

In Germany, it was first played by F. L. Schroeder at Hamburg, in 1778. While not a leading favorite among Shakespeare's plays, at the present time Richard II seems assured of an average of a half-dozen performances a year in various parts of the country. It appears never to have been played in France or Italy.

The failure of Richard II as a stage play is well explained by one who had had practical experience with it, as follows: