Thomas Betterton


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Betterton, Thomas

(bĕt`ərtən), 1635?–1710, English actor and manager. He joined Sir William D'Avenant's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields theater in 1661 and became the leading actor of the Restoration stage, the theatrical leader of his time. In the role of Hamlet he was acknowledged as the greatest since Burbage. After D'Avenant's death (1668), he became the head of the company and moved to the Dorset Garden theater (1671), which he partially managed, and where he was especially successful in adaptations of Shakespeare by Dryden, Shadwell, Tate, and himself. Betterton managed the Drury Lane theater from 1682 until 1695, at which time he reopened a theater in Lincoln's Inn Fields, with Congreve's Love for Love as his first production. In 1705 he moved his company to the new Haymarket theater, built for them by Sir John Vanbrugh, where he made his last appearance in 1710. Sent to Paris by James II to study French technique, Betterton adopted new ideas in his theaters, especially in regard to scene design. His wife, Mary Saunderson Betterton, d. 1711, was the first woman to act Shakespeare's great female characters, most notably Lady Macbeth. Both are buried in Westminster Abbey.

Bibliography

See R. W. Lowe, Thomas Betterton (1891, repr. 1972); B. Marinacci, Leading Ladies (1961).

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References in classic literature ?
Annals of the English Stage, from Thomas Betterton to Edmund Kean.
These Annals of the English Stage, from Thomas Betterton to Edmund [74] Kean, are full of the colours of life in their most emphatic and motley contrasts, as is natural in proportion as the stage itself concentrates and artificially intensifies the character and conditions of ordinary life.
Even Wilson allows a "possible exception" for Thomas Betterton whose abilities were extolled by all (598).
Untortunately, Whitfield appears to be unaware that the upturned chair in Frangois Boitard's design, a detail not referred to in Shakespeare's text, was a familiar piece of stage business at the time and thus does not arise from any "stroke of genius" on the part of an artist "breaking out of the theatre into real drama:' Indeed, the case can be made for identifying the Hamlet in the picture as the aging Thomas Betterton, his "down-gyved" stocking (a detail not mentioned by Whitfield) being an allusion to Ophelia's description of Hamlet's disturbing demeanor earlier in the play.
36) In The Counterfeit Bridegroom (published 1677), a Restoration adaptation of Thomas Middleton's No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's attributed variously to Thomas Betterton and Aphra Behn, Sir Oliver Santlow dances a Lancashire hornpipe--now 'quite out of fashion'--on his own in act 5, albeit after much revelling and carousing (H1v).
North's stance runs counter to that of Thomas Betterton, who may have had a hand in adapting The Fairy-Queen and who certainly had a role in its production.
Todd (1996a: xi-xii) agrees that there is no evidence to ascribe it wholly to Behn, but she may have collaborated in it, probably with Thomas Betterton.
At the Betterton Theatre, run by Sir Thomas Betterton, Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup) holds audiences in thrall with his portrayals of the female roles.
At the Betterton Theatre, run by Sir Thomas Betterton (Tom Wilkinson), Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup) holds audiences in thrall with his portrayals of the great female roles.
At the Betterton Theatre, run by Sir Thomas Betterton (Wilkinson), Ned Kynaston (Crudup) holds sway with his portrayals of the great female roles.
Ned Kynaston Billy Crudup Maria Claire Danes King Charles II Rupert Everett Thomas Betterton Tom Wilkinson George Villiars, Duke of Buckingham Ben Chaplin Samuel Pepys Hugh Bonneville Sir Charles Sedley Richard Griffiths Sir Edward Hyde Edward Fox Nell Gwyn Zoe Tapper
In 1695, the actor Thomas Betterton had seceded from the United Company managed by Christopher Rich, taking a good portion of the company with him, and set up a rival theater in a converted tennis court in Lincoln's Inn Fields.