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|Born||Philip Barling Greet
24 September 1857
|Died||17 May 1936
Sir Philip Barling "Ben" Greet (24 September 1857–17 May 1936) was a Shakespearean actor, director, and impresario.
The younger son of Captain William Greet RN and his wife, Sarah Barling, Greet was born on board HMS Crocodile, a Royal Navy recruiting ship tied up at the Tower of London. He was educated at the Royal Naval School, New Cross. His parents planned to make him a naval officer or a clergyman, but instead he became a schoolmaster at a private school at Worthing. His brother was theatre manager William Greet.
Greet made his professional stage debut in 1883, playing Caius Lucius in Cymbeline. In 1886 he started staging open-air productions of the classic English stage repertory; his companies, called the Ben Greet Players, the Sign of the Cross Company, and the Woodland or Merry Woodland Players, toured Great Britain and the United States. Greet, along with William Poel, led a return to Shakespeare's original texts in simplified productions, in contrast to the often elaborate and heavily edited presentations fashionable in their era. Greet did not limit his work to the Shakespeare canon, but staged a range of other dramas; his production of the morality play Everyman was acted for 35 years across Britain and America.
Greet toured North America with great success with his "Elizabethan Stage Society of England" from 1902 to 1914. The company included Sybil Thorndike and Sydney Greenstreet. He staged performances at Harvard University and in Theodore Roosevelt’s White House and was a mainstay of the Chautauqua Circuit. From 1914-18 he was director of the Old Vic Theatre in London, making that theatre a center for Shakespearean production. Later he concentrated on productions for London schoolchildren.
Greet was knighted in 1929.
In his four seasons at the Old Vic, Greet produced 35 plays, including 23 by Shakespeare, plus Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, Sheridan's The Rivals and The School for Scandal, the Medieval mystery play The Star of Bethlehem, and Everyman among other works.
- Victory and Peace (1918)
- Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.
- Isaac, Winifred F. E. C. Ben Greet and the Old Vic: A Biography of Philip Ben Greet. London, 1964.
- Rowell, George. The Old Vic Theatre: A History. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993.