The first production at Britain's first true repertory theatre – the Gaiety, in Manchester – under Annie Horniman's management was of a Shakespeare play: William Poel's staging of Measure for Measure, analyzed in detail by Richard Foulkes in Theatre Quarterly No. 39 (1981). Yet Miss Horniman's attitude both to Poel's experimental ‘Elizabethanism’ and to subsequent attempts at Shakespeare at the Gaiety remained ambivalent, and influenced by such personal tensions and disagreements as saw off Lewis Casson after his radical and political reading of Julius Caesar, in favour of safer stuff conceived as an alternative to Christmas pantomime. The author, Viv Gardner, teaches in the Drama Department of the University of Manchester: she is a former Book Reviews Editor of NTQ, and currently co-editor of the Women and Theatre papers. Here, she sets Shakespearean production at the Gaiety into the context of Miss Horniman and her colleagues' ambitions for the Gaiety and its intended role in Manchester's civic life.