This chapter discusses the growing importance of spirits, and growing
interest in precisely what spirits are and how they supposedly interact with
the physical world, during the Restoration. This interest in spirits, always
of great underlying importance within the debate on witchcraft, enters into
this debate more openly during the Interregnum and Restoration periods. A
number of dramatic treatments of witchcraft during the Restoration are
discussed, many of which bear traces of this increasing interest in the
connections between the spiritual and physical realms, and all of which tend
to suggest increasing scepticism towards witchcraft. Particularly striking
in this regard are the Shakespeare adaptations of Richard Davenant, whose
versions of Macbeth and The Tempest exemplify much greater interest in the
workings of the spiritual world than Shakespeare’s originals.
There are an extraordinary number of autobiographies written by British female theatre professionals working during the period. This generation of actresses and female performers were concerned, in part, with locating themselves in a public culture of self-affirmation and reflection. Their autobiographic writing evidences an awareness of the growing interest in their activities as public figures and practitioners, in a labour market where women were now becoming firmly professionalised. The chapter explores how their ‘autobiographic confessional histories’ can be read as a body of work, as cultural interventions that make an explicit contribution to our understandings of the development of professional theatre practice more generally, during the era.