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British Enlightenment Theatre
Dramatizing Difference

$29.99 (F)

  • Date Published: January 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108731188

$ 29.99 (F)

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About the Authors
  • In this ground-breaking work, Bridget Orr shows that popular eighteenth-century theatre was about much more than fashion, manners and party politics. Using the theatre as a means of circulating and publicizing radical Enlightenment ideas, many plays made passionate arguments for religious and cultural toleration, and voiced protests against imperial invasion and forced conversion of indigenous peoples by colonial Europeans. Irish and labouring-class dramatists wrote plays, often set in the countryside, attacking social and political hierarchy in Britain itself. Another crucial but as yet unexplored aspect of early eighteenth-century theatre is its connection to freemasonry. Freemasons were pervasive as actors, managers, prompters, scene-painters, dancers and musicians, with their own lodges, benefit performances and particular audiences. In addition to promoting the Enlightened agenda of toleration and cosmopolitanism, freemason dramatists invented the new genre of domestic tragedy, a genre that criticized the effects of commercial and colonial capitalism.

    • Situates Restoration and eighteenth-century English plays in relation to Enlightenment ideas
    • Shows how eighteenth-century English drama gave voice to radical critique on behalf of oppressed groups including colonized peoples, the Irish, Muslims and the labouring classes
    • Reveals for the first time how central freemasonry was to eighteenth-century theatre
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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108731188
    • length: 295 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: dramatizing enlightenment
    1. Addison, Steele and enlightened sentiment
    2. Fair captives and spiritual dragooning: Islam and toleration on stage
    3. The black legend, noble savagery and indigenous voice
    4. The Masonic Invention of domestic tragedy
    5. Local savagery: the Enlightenment countryside on stage

  • Author

    Bridget Orr, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
    Bridget Orr is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. She is the author of Empire on the English Stage, 1660–1714 (Cambridge, 2001) and co-author of Voyages and Beaches: Pacific Encounters, 1769–1840 (1999). She is editor of a special Pacific issue of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation and has published many essays on Restoration and eighteenth-century drama and New Zealand, Maori and Pacific writing and film. Among other awards she has won Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

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