Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lee Mitchell, Randall Capps, William Leonard

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In most journalistic studies the film career of Charles Laughton overshadows his theatrical activities to the extent that the reader is hardly aware of the importance of his theatrical innovations to the theater of our time. The more commercial side of Laughton’s career was publicized while his artistic efforts, as characterized by the innovations, were frequently forgotten. More people remember him as the man who played Captain Bligh in the movies than as the man who worked with Bertolt Brecht, created the First Drama Quartette and developed a new American art form, Readers’ Theatre.

The rationale of this study is to show the artistic Laughton in vivid enough detail to reverse the journalistic formula of emphasizing his film work and subordinating his theatrical innovations. If he had been strictly a commercial minded artist this study would not be needed. But he was anything but a commercially oriented individual. He was instead a pioneer whose total theatrical accomplishments, as mirrored through his innovations, were as outstanding as his film triumphs. These accomplishments are worthy of attention with his film career acting as a secondary consideration.


Acting | Communication | Performance Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology | Theatre and Performance Studies | Theatre History