Indoor or outdoor? The performance history of Allan Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaper


Allan Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd was an undeniable success. It has a rich performing history that spans two centuries with further evidence demonstrating a national and international reach. It was performed throughout the Scotland, England, North America and even Australia by professional and amateur companies. Most of these performances typically took place in an indoor theatre, particularly in later 19th-century performances where The Gentle Shepherd’s musical and rhetorical framework was standardised to its recognisable model. However, the early performance history of this work is not as neatly packaged, with Ramsay even making significant changes to the text creating a 22-song ballad opera out of the original work, which was mainly spoken though did include 4 songs. Who performed this work in either iteration? Where and in what way was the performance carried out? New evidence found at The John Gray Centre in Haddington provides more in-depth information regarding these very questions. In this paper, I will discuss the reason why these questions must be asked of The Gentle Shepherd’s first performances, particularly since Ramsay was heavily involved in its initial production, and how this information can extend its performance possibilities in the 21st century.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 5 Jan 2019
EventBritish Society for Eighteenth-century Studies Annual Conference: Islands and Isolation - St Hughes College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jan 20197 Jan 2019


ConferenceBritish Society for Eighteenth-century Studies Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address