A pretty choice set of devils: the actress in the eighteenth-century

Jones, Claire (2006) A pretty choice set of devils: the actress in the eighteenth-century. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis is a study of the actresses on the eighteenth¬century stage. It concentrates on the mid-century period, and on those women who worked with David Garrick at Drury lane, though other women working at the time are included. It aims to give a wider picture of the, working lives of these actresses, their training, and their contribution to the changing styles of acting and stage presentation. Also important is the position of the actress in society, and the ways by which she attained respectability and social status. Eighteenth-century actresses, coming in between the novelty of the Restoration period, and the wider spread of theatrical entertainment in the nineteenth-century, have had a smaller amount of attention paid to them. Nevertheless, they were a small group who contributed a great deal. Extensive research was undertaken to examine contemporary writing and archives, and discover the picture of the eighteenth-century theatre world, and where the.actress fitted into it. The scope was wide and had to be shortened and given a narrower focus, due to lack of space, but many interesting topics presented themselves. Among the subject matter included, are examples of correspondence, criticisms, and roles played by them. Some excerpts from speeches and epilogues are given in the appendix, to illustrate the dramatic context of their work. There is a full bibliography. I hope to add some new insight into the theatre world of the eighteenth-century by the presentation of this work, and to explore and throw more light on the world of women who were often sidelined, but who were a vital part of an intriguing area of theatrical history.

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