George Stayley

Life
1727-?1779; actor-playwright, played in Dublin 1752-66 and wrote The Rival Theatres, or A Playhouse to Let (q.d.), a farce about the antagonism of the two main Dublin theatres, Smock Alley and Crow St.; worked at Canongate Music-hall, Edinburgh, 1766, where as a riot was caused by his not being re-engaged there in 1767; published Life and Opinions of An Actor (1762) and other works. ODNB

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Works
  • Mr. Stayley’s Reference to the publick (Dublin 1760), 8p.;
  • The Life and Opinions of an Actor. A real history, in two real volumes. By Mr. George Stayley, late of Smock-Alley, comedian (Dublin & London 1762);
  • The Life and Opinions of an Actor, I (Dublin 1767);
  • The Art of Reading in Two lectures; the serious and the comic. With rules and observations ... for the use of schools, and to all ladies and gentlemen, public and private, who desire to be instructed in the knowlege of reading, or speaking, with taste ... To which is added, Bucks have at you all. By George Stayley (Glasgow 1778).

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Criticism
La Tourette Stockwell, Dublin Theatre and Theatre Customs 1637-1820 (Tennessee 1938; rep. NY & London 1968), p.334.

See also Esther Sheldon, Thomas Sheridan of Smock Alley (Princeton 1967); Michael Arnott, English Theatrical Literature (1970).

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Commentary
La Tourette Stockwell, Dublin Theatre and Theatre Customs 1637-1820 (Tennessee 1938; rep. NY & London 1968), p.334, quoting from The Rival Theatres (1759) in which the char. Neutral says ‘I am going this Morning to Smock-Alley to look at their Green-Room, and see a Rehearsal there; and called upon your Ladyship to go along with me.’ See also Stockwell, op. cit. p.362, note 50.

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre: Being a History of the Drama in Ireland from the Earlieest Period up to the Present Day (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946), comments on George Stayley’s farce, The Rival Theatres, or A Playhouse to Let, in which Mr Neutral says, ‘Why, the two Theatres have almost rais’d a Civil War amongst us.’

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References
Michael Arnott & J. W. Robinson, English Theatrical Literature 1559-1900: A Bibliography (London: Society for Theatre Research 1970), lists The Art of Reading, in two lectures: the serious and the comic. With rules and observations [ ...] for the use of schools, and to all ladies and gentlemen, public and private, who desire to be instructed in the knowledge of reading, or speaking, with taste ... To which is added, Bucks have at you all. By George Stayley (Glasgow 1778); The Life and Opinions of an Actor. A real history, in two real volumes. By Mr. George Stayley, late of Smock-Alley, comedian (Dublin and London 1762); Mr. Stayley’s Reference to the publick (Dublin 1760), 8pp.

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Notes
Namesake: a participant in the Popish plot was called Stayley - viz., ‘Now painter, draw me hell in all its heat,/ Let sulphurous flames and dismal darkness meet, / And in the hottest place, as best befits, / Draw Stayley, Coleman and the Jesuits’. (Quoted in J. C. Croker, Historical Songs of Ireland, London 1841, notes to “The Reading Skirmish”, p.20.) Croker’s notes indicate that Stayley, who was hanged, drawn and quartered on 26 Nov. 1678, was an innocent victim of the episode, called al goldsmith or banker from Covent Garden, who was arrested because of alleged words in French in a pastry shop; probably a partner with his father in a banking-house, which was lately Wrights’. (Note that Thos. Wright was an associate of Croker in the Percy Society, and later the editor of his reissued works.)

 

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