Curtain Calls: British and American Women and the Theater

Curtain Calls: British and American Women and the Theater

by Mary Anne Schofield
     
 
"I here and there o'heard a Coxcomb cry,
Ah, rot-'tis a Woman's Comedy."

Thus Aphra Behn ushers in a new era for women in the British Theatre (Sir Patient Fancy, 1678). In the hundred years that were to follow-and exactly those years that Curtain Calls examines-women truly took the theater world by storm.

For each woman who chose a career in the theater world

Overview

"I here and there o'heard a Coxcomb cry,
Ah, rot-'tis a Woman's Comedy."

Thus Aphra Behn ushers in a new era for women in the British Theatre (Sir Patient Fancy, 1678). In the hundred years that were to follow-and exactly those years that Curtain Calls examines-women truly took the theater world by storm.

For each woman who chose a career in the theater world of the eighteenth century, there is a unique tale of struggle, insult, success, good or bad fortune, disaster, seduction, or fame. Whether acting, writing, reviewing, or stage managing, women played a major, if frequently unacknowledged, role in the history of the theater from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. From Alpha Behn's earliest plays through the glorious celebrity of Sara Siddons, women molded the taste of the age and carved out in the theater one of the few available opportunities for independence and renown.

Not all the women who tried succeeded, of course, and even the best faced opposition as they challenged the male stronghold of playwriting and theater managing. Curtain Calls maps the new territory as these pioneering women staked it for their own; it chronicles their lives, their triumphs, and their losses.

We begin with Aphra Behn, whose first play was staged in 1670, and conclude in the early decades of the nineteenth century with Inchbald and Siddons. The one hundred and fifty years encompassed by their lives contain the careers of dozens of lesser-known women, a network, as Dr. Johnson would have it, encompassing both talent and tribulation.

Contributors include: Edward Langhans, Linda R. Payne, Pat Rogers, Maureen e. Mulvihill, Deborah Payne, Betty Rizzo, Ellen Donkin, Frances M. Kavenik, Jessica Munns, nancy Cotton, Edna L. Steevs, Doreen Saar, Jean B. Kern, Katherine M. Rogers, Constance Clark, William J. Burling, Judith Phillips Stanton, Douglas Butler, Rose Zimbardo, and the editors.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Intended for an audience of non-specialists, this volume clearly and knowledgeably annotates about 500 books in the English language--books that can usually be found in larger public and academic libraries. The organization is alphabetical within 25 subject categories. A collection of critical essays on the lives of non-celebrity women of the theater: how the patronage sytsem affected women performers; cross-dressing as more than mere constuming--as a vehicle for the exploration of new sexual identities and roles; the colonial scene; woman critics; women playwrights; and the interplay between drama and the novel. The intent is to revive lost reputations, reconstruct theater history, and rekindle interest in theater women and their work. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780821409572
Publisher:
Ohio University Press
Publication date:
01/01/1991
Edition description:
1
Pages:
426
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

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