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HARLEY GRANVILLE BARKER (1877-1946)

HARLEY GRANVILLE BARKER was born at London in 1877. He appears to have begun his stage career at an early age, when he became an actor in a provincial company. His first London appearance was in 1892. He subsequently acted with Lewis Waller, Ben Greet, and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, and participated in the productions of the Elizabethan Stage Society. Becoming identified later with the Stage Society, he produced and acted in a number of Bernard Shaw's early plays. In 1904 he undertook, together with J.E. Vedrenne, the management of the Court Theater, where he successfully experimented in a repertory scheme, producing many new plays by Shaw, St. John Hankin, Barrie and Galsworthy. He continued his managerial activities at the Duke of York's Theater, the Savoy--where his Shakespearian revivals were produced--the St. James, and the Kingsway. During his later years, Mr. Barker adapted plays, wrote about the theater, and lectured, both in England and the United States.

Granville Barker's plays are, in the best sense of the word, experiments in form. They are a good deal more than technical feats, to be sure, but one feels that they are primarily quests after a newer and more flexible medium than that which the workers in the traditional form habitually use. "The Madras House," for example, judged by the standards of Pinero, is hardly a play at all; its artistic unity lies rather in the theme than in the actual plot. In "Waste," the theme again--more concrete than in "The Madras House"--dominates the form. "The Voysey Inheritance," a study of upper middle-class English life, comes nearer to the traditional dramatic form.

This article is reprinted from Representative One-Act Plays by British and Irish Authors. Ed. Barrett H. Clark. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1921.

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