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Female theatre workers and professional practice

Stage women, 1900–50 explores the many ways in which women conceptualised, constructed and participated in networks of professional practice in the theatre and performance industries between 1900 and 1950. A timely volume full of original research, the book explores women’s complex negotiations of their agency over both their labour and public representation, and their use of personal and professional networks to sustain their careers. Including a series of case studies that explore a range of well-known and lesser-known women working in theatre, film and popular performance of the period. The volume is divided into two connected parts. ‘Female theatre workers in the social and theatrical realm’ looks at the relationship between women’s work – on- and offstage – and autobiography, activism, technique, touring, education and the law. Part II, ‘Women and popular performance’, focuses on the careers of individual artists, once household names, including Lily Brayton, Ellen Terry, radio star Mabel Constanduros, and Oscar-winning film star Margaret Rutherford. Overall, the book provides new and vibrant cultural histories of women’s work in the theatre and performance industries of the period.

Working memories

Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space explores how street theatre transforms industrial space into postindustrial space. Deindustrializing communities have increasingly turned to cultural projects to commemorate industrial heritage while simultaneously generating surplus value and jobs in a changing economy. Through analysis of French street theatre companies working out of converted industrial sites, this book reveals how theatre and performance more generally participate in and make historical sense of ongoing urban and economic change. The book argues, firstly, that deindustrialization and redevelopment rely on the spatial and temporal logics of theatre and performance. Redevelopment requires theatrical events and performative acts that revise, resituate, and re-embody particular pasts. The book proposes working memory as a central metaphor for these processes. The book argues, secondly, that in contemporary France street theatre has emerged as working memory's privileged artistic form. If the transition from industrial to postindustrial space relies on theatrical logics, those logics will manifest differently depending on geographic context. The book links the proliferation of street theatre in France since the 1970s to the crisis in Fordist-Taylorist modernity. How have street theatre companies converted spaces of manufacturing into spaces of theatrical production? How do these companies (with municipal governments and developers) connect their work to the work that occurred in these spaces in the past? How do those connections manifest in theatrical events, and how do such events give shape and meaning to redevelopment? Street theatre’s function is both economic and historiographic. It makes the past intelligible as past and useful to the present.

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Street and theatre at the end of Fordism

. Therefore this chapter brings together street theatre historiography and performance analysis. In doing so, it shows how street theatre’s engagement with real and imagined pasts shapes persistent assumptions about its political efficacy and its relationship to theatre in purpose-built spaces. French street theatre’s origin stories trace the form to the protests of May 1968 or link it to a premodern carnivalesque; in both cases, street theatre is supposed to transcend the atomization of bodies in space and time by eliminating the distinction between performer and spectator

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Working memory

) sustainable, postindustrial environments. The first chapter is set in the urban landscape of the 1970s and 1980s, when artists were increasingly occupying industrial sites that had become derelict in the aftermath of the economic crisis. Bringing together street theatre historiography and performance analysis of two long-running, iconic productions – Théâtre de l’Unité’s 2CV Théâtre (1977–97) and Générik Vapeur’s Bivouac (1988–) – I explain why, in contemporary France, street theatre has emerged as working memory’s privileged artistic form. Ultimately, I argue that street

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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to create herself as the ‘odd woman out’, the exception to the rule as an actress who marketed herself through precisely her lack of glamour. While these chapters tell very different stories, they connect in their attention to the dynamic complexities of women’s professional lives and their ownership of their own professionalism in practice. Negotiating the tyranny of plenty: theatre and performance historiography in the digital age The generation of research is dependent on funding, on the politics of publishing, on the appeal of historical research in theatre

in Stage women, 1900–50
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Alternative pasts, sustainable futures

. One of my tasks here has been to determine what those tricks are, how they operate, and what (or whose) purpose they serve. This might be the task of street theatre, too: the performances of Théâtre de l’Unité and Générik Vapeur mount compelling challenges to simple nostalgia, instead interrogating the desire to return to a pre-industrial past, and the imaginary archaeology of KompleXKapharnaüM stages the assembly, distortion, or even wholesale invention of local memory. Street theatre – and theatre more generally – can do historiography. Postindustrial space is

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession

and at other fashionable fundraising events are, without doubt, interwoven with questions related to autobiographical strategies, the significance of anecdotal evidence to historiography and the construction of public selves which have preoccupied feminist theatre historiographers over the past two decades (see Gale and Gardner, 2004). Photographs, interviews and gossip columns allowed theatre’s stars to offer tantalising glimpses of their ‘offstage’ selves at closed social occasions, including dinner parties, house parties and salons, and at public events including

in Stage women, 1900–50
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Actresses, female performers, autobiography and the scripting of professional practice

postcards of her early career – see http://www.gladyscooper.com (accessed 24 August 2018). References Bennett, Susan (2010), ‘The Making of Theatre History’, in Charlotte Canning and Thomas Postlewait, eds, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, Iowa City: Iowa University Press, pp. 63–83. Bratton, Jacky (2003), New Readings in Theatre History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cooper, Gladys (1931), Gladys Cooper, London: Hutchinson. Courtneidge, Cicely (1953), Cicely, London: Hutchinson. Dare, Phyllis (1907), From School to Stage, London

in Stage women, 1900–50
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A theatre maker in every sense

8 Lily Brayton A theatre maker in every sense Brian Singleton Lily Brayton (1876–1953) is barely remembered today, overshadowed in historical accounts of British theatre history by her Australian-born husband, Oscar Asche, who penned the most commercially successful production on the London stage in the first half of the twentieth century (Chu Chin Chow, His Majesty’s Theatre, 1916–21). Brayton was lead actress in most of the productions directed by Asche, and was generally regarded by contemporary critics as one of the best Shakespearean actresses of the early

in Stage women, 1900–50
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The art of performance and her work in film

10 Ellen Terry The art of performance and her work in film Katharine Cockin The reputation of Ellen Terry (1847–1928) as an actor is associated with her stage performances at the Lyceum Theatre, London from 1878 to 1902, and in Shakespearean roles, notably Beatrice, Portia and Lady Macbeth. However, in 1916 she ventured into popular cultural performances in film and music hall. It is her film acting at the time of the rise of the film industry in the 1920s in particular which is considered here as a new dimension to the historiography of Terry’s career. Nina

in Stage women, 1900–50