John Philip Kemble


John Philip Kemble

Infobox actor
name = John Philip Kemble



imagesize = 250px
caption = John Philip Kemble as Hamlet, from an engraving of a painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1802)
birthname =
birthdate = birth date|1757|2|1|df=y
birthplace = Prescot, Lancashire
England
deathdate = death date and age|1823|2|23|1757|2|1|df=y
deathplace = Lausanne
Switzerland
restingplace =
restingplacecoordinates =
othername =
occupation = Actor-manager
yearsactive = 1761–1817
spouse = Priscilla Hopkins Brereton
domesticpartner =
children =
parents = Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward
influences =
influenced =

John Philip Kemble (February 1, 1757 – February 26, 1823), was an English actor. He was born into a theatrical family as the eldest son of Roger Kemble, actor-manager of a touring troupe. His elder sister Sarah Siddons achieved fame with him on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His siblings, Charles Kemble, Stephen Kemble, Ann Hatton and Elizabeth Whitlock also enjoyed success on the stage.

Early life

The second child of Roger Kemble, he was born at Prescot, Lancashire. His mother being a Roman Catholic, he was educated at Sedgley Park Catholic seminary, near Wolverhampton, and the English college at Douai, with a view to becoming a priest. At the end of the four years' course, he still felt no vocation for the priesthood, and returning to England he joined the theatrical company of Crump & Chamberlain, his first appearance being as Theodosius in Nathaniel Lee's tragedy of that name at Wolverhampton on January 8, 1776.

In 1778, Kemble joined the York company of Tate Wilkinson, appearing at Wakefield as Captain Plume in George Farquhar's "The Recruiting Officer"; in Hull for the first time as Macbeth on October 30, and in York as Orestes in Ambrose Philips's "Distresset Mother". In 1781 he obtained a "star" engagement at Dublin making his first appearance there on November 2 as Hamlet. He also achieved great success as Raymond in "The Count of Narbonne", a play taken from Horace Walpole's "Castle of Otranto".

Drury Lane

Gradually he won for himself a high reputation as a careful and finished actor, and this, combined with the greater fame of his sister, Sarah, led to an engagement at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he made his first appearance on September 30, 1783 as Hamlet. In this role he awakened interest and discussion among the critics rather than the enthusiastic approval of the public. As Macbeth on March 31, 1785 he shared in the enthusiasm aroused by Sarah Siddons, and established a reputation among living actors second only to hers. Brother and sister had first appeared together at Drury Lane on November 22, 1783, as Beverley and Mrs Beverley in Edward Moore's "The Gamester", and as King John and Constance in Shakespeare's tragedy.

In the following year they played Montgomerie and Matilda in Richard Cumberland's "The Carmelite", and in 1785 Adorni and Camiola in Kemble's adaptation of Philip Massinger's "A Maid of Honor", and Othello and Desdemona. Between 1785 and 1787 Kemble appeared in a variety of roles, his Mentevole in Robert Jephson's "Julia" producing an overwhelming impression.

In December 1787 he married Priscilla Hopkins Brereton, the widow of an actor and herself an actress. Kemble's appointment as manager of the Drury Lane theatre in 1788 gave him full opportunity to dress the characters less according to tradition than in harmony with his own conception of what was suitable. He was also able to experiment with whatever parts might strike his fancy, and of this privilege he took advantage with greater courage than discretion.

He played a huge number of parts, including a large number of Shakespearean characters and also a great many in plays now forgotten, in his own version of "Coriolanus", which was revived during his first season, the character of the "noble Roman" was so exactly suited to his powers that he not only played it with a perfection that has never been approached, but, it is said, unconsciously allowed its influence to colour his private manner and modes of speech. His tall and imposing person, noble countenance, and solemn and grave demeanour were uniquely adapted for the Roman characters in Shakespeare's plays; and, when in addition had to depict the gradual growth and development of one absorbing passion, his representation gathered a momentum and majestic force that were irresistible.

His defect was in flexibility, variety, rapidity; the characteristic of his style was method, regularity, precision, elaboration even of the minutest details, founded on a thorough psychological study of the special personality he had to represent. His elocutionary art, his fine sense of rhythm and emphasis, enabled him to excel in declamation, but physically he was incapable of giving expression to impetuous vehemence and searching pathos. In "Coriolanus" and Cato he was beyond praise, and possibly he may have been superior to both Garrick and Kean in Macbeth, although it must be remembered that in it part of his inspiration must have been caught from Mrs Siddons.

In all the other great Shakespearean characters he was, according to the best critics, inferior to them, least so in Lear (though he never played Shakespeare's tragic Lear, preferring the happy ending "History of King Lear" as adapted by Nahum Tate [Stanley Wells, "Introduction" from "King Lear" Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 69.] ), Hamlet and Wolsey, and most so in Shylock and Richard III. His production of "Cymbeline" was staged regularly from 1801 on. On account of the eccentricities of Sheridan, the proprietor of Drury Lane, Kemble withdrew from the management, and, although he resumed his duties at the beginning of the season 1800-1801, he at the close of 1802 finally resigned connection with it.

Covent Garden

In 1803 he became manager of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in which he had acquired a sixth share for 23,000. The theatre was burned down on September 20, 1808, and the raising of the prices after the opening of the new theatre, in 1809, led to the Old Price Riots, which practically suspended the performances for three months. Kemble had been nearly ruined by the fire, and was only saved by a generous loan, afterwards converted into a gift, of £10,000 from the Duke of Northumberland. Kemble took his final leave of the stage in the part of Coriolanus on June 23, 1817.

His retirement was probably hastened by the rising popularity of Edmund Kean. The remaining years of his life were spent chiefly abroad, and he died at Lausanne on the 26th of February 1823.

References

*1911
*Lynch, Jack (2007). "Becoming Shakespeare: The Strange Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard." New York: Walker & Co.

Further reading

* James Boaden, "Life of John Philip Kemble" (1825)
* Fitzgerald, "The Kembles" (1871)

Persondata
NAME= Kemble, John Philip
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Actor-manager
DATE OF BIRTH= 1757-2-1
PLACE OF BIRTH= Prescot, Lancashire
England
DATE OF DEATH= 1823-2-23
PLACE OF DEATH= Lausanne
Switzerland


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John Philip Kemble — (* 1. Februar 1757 in Preston, Lancashire; † 26. Februar 1823 in Lausanne) war ein englischer Schauspieler. Inhaltsverzeichn …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Philip Kemble — (1757 1823) est un acteur britannique. Biographie Né à Prescot dans le Lancastre, il était le fils du directeur du théâtre de Worcester. Il débuta en 1782 sur le théâtre de Dublin, puis vint à …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kemble, John Philip — ▪ British actor born Feb. 1, 1757, Prescot, Lancashire, Eng. died Feb. 26, 1823, Lausanne, Switz.       popular English actor and manager of the Drury Lane (Drury Lane Theatre) and Covent Garden theatres in London, where his reforms improved the… …   Universalium

  • KEMBLE, JOHN PHILIP —    eldest son of Roger, born at Prescot, Lancashire; began to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood, but adopted the stage, and appeared first at Wolverhampton in 1776; after touring in Yorkshire and Ireland he came to London in 1783, playing… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • John Kemble (martyr) — John Kemble (b. 1599, St Weonards, Herefordshire d. 22 August 1679, Widemarsh Common, Hereford) was an English Roman Catholic martyr. He was one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.Early years and ordinationJohn Kemble was born at Rhydicar… …   Wikipedia

  • Kemble — ist der Name von : Charles Kemble (1775–1854), englischer Schauspieler Edwin Kemble (Edwin Crawford Kemble; 1889–1984), US amerikanischer Physiker Frances Anne Kemble (1809–1893), englische Schauspielerin und Schriftstellerin John Kemble (†… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kemble family — Kemble is the name of a family of English actors, of whom the most famous were Sarah Siddons (1755 1831) and her brother John Philip Kemble (1757 1823), the two eldest of the twelve children of Roger Kemble (1721 1802), a strolling player and… …   Wikipedia

  • John Kemble — may refer to:*John Kemble (martyr) Roman Catholic martyr *John Philip Kemble English actor and manager …   Wikipedia

  • Kemble, Fanny — ▪ British actress in full  Frances Ann Kemble  born Nov. 27, 1809, London, Eng. died Jan. 15, 1893, London  popular English actress who is also remembered as the author of plays, poems, and reminiscences, the latter containing much information… …   Universalium

  • Kemble — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Lieux Kemble est un village du Gloucestershire, en Angleterre. Personnes La famille Kemble est une famille d acteurs britannique : Roger Kemble (1721 …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.