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Author Nussbaum, Felicity

Title Rival queens : actresses, performance, and the eighteenth-century British theater / Felicity Nussbaum

Publ Info Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [2010]
 RWU Main Library  PN2582.W65 N87 2010    AVAILABLE
 Salve Main Collection  PN2582.W65 N87 2010    AVAILABLE
Descript 383 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
text rdacontent
unmediated rdamedia
volume rdacarrier
Note Includes bibliographical references (p. [339]-363) and index
Contents Introduction: at stage's edge -- The economics of celebrity -- Real, beautiful women: rival queens -- Actresses' memoirs: exceptional virtue -- Actresses and patrons: the theatrical contract -- The actress and performative property: Catherine Clive -- The actress, travesty, and nation: Margaret Woffington -- The actress and material femininity: Frances Abington -- Epilogue: contracted virtue
Note In eighteenth-century England, actresses were frequently dismissed as mere prostitutes trading on their sexual power rather than their talents. Yet they were, Felicity Nussbaum argues, central to the success of a newly commercial theater. Urban, recently moneyed, and thoroughly engaged with their audiences, celebrated actresses were among the first women to achieve social mobility, cultural authority, and financial independence. In fact, Nussbaum contends, the eighteenth century might well be called the "age of the actress" in the British theater, given women's influence on the dramatic repertory and, through it, on the definition of femininity. Treating individual star actresses who helped spark a cult of celebrity--especially Anne Oldfield, Susannah Cibber, Catherine Clive, Margaret Woffington, Frances Abington, and George Anne Bellamy--Rival Queens reveals the way these women animated issues of national identity, property, patronage, and fashion in the context of their dramatic performances. Actresses intentionally heightened their commercial appeal by catapulting the rivalries among themselves to center stage. They also boldly rivaled in importance the actor-managers who have long dominated eighteenth-century theater history and criticism. Felicity Nussbaum combines an emphasis on the celebrated actresses themselves with close analysis of their diverse roles in works by major playwrights, including George Farquhar, Nicholas Rowe, Colley Cibber, Arthur Murphy, David Garrick, Isaac Bickerstaff, and Richard Sheridan. Hers is a comprehensive and original argument about the importance of actresses as the first modern subjects actively shaping their public identities to make themselves into celebrated properties
LC subject Women in the theater -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century
Theater and society -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century
Actresses -- Great Britain -- Biography
ISBN 9780812242331 (alk. paper)
0812242335 (alk. paper)