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The Cambridge Companion to the Actress

Part of Cambridge Companions to Literature

Maggie B. Gale, John Stokes, Gilli Bush-Bailey, Elizabeth Eger, Gail Marshall, David Mayer, Lucie Sutherland, Tony Howard, Jo Robinson, Viv Gardner, Christine Gledhill, Lynette Goddard, Jacky Bratton, Elaine Aston, Maria M. Delgado, Penny Gay
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  • Date Published: February 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521608541


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About the Authors
  • This Companion brings together sixteen new essays which examine, from various perspectives, the social and cultural role of the actress throughout history and across continents. Each essay focuses on a particular stage in her development, for example professionalism in the seventeenth century; the emergence of the actress/critic during the Romantic period and, later on, of the actress as best selling autobiographer; the coming of the drama schools which led to today's emphasis on the actress as a highly-trained working woman. Chapters consider the image of the actress as a courtesan, as a 'muse', as a representative of the 'ordinary' housewife, and as a political activist. The collection also contains essays on forms, genres and traditions - on cross dressing, solo performance, racial constraints, and recent Shakespeare - as well as on the actress in early photography and on film. Its unique range will fascinate, surprise and instruct theatre-goers and students alike.

    • Includes interview material with leading practitioners
    • Encourages readers to make revealing comparisons between different periods and cultures
    • Explains how changes in playwriting and in the art of acting have often been led and implemented by female performers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'From an impressive group of scholars, the essays are distinguished by a consistent effort to move beyond traditional critical and artistic boundaries and offer original investigations of the actress and the systems, conventions, and communities that contributed to a career.' Theatre Survey

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521608541
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Maggie B. Gale and John Stokes
    Part I. Turning Points:
    1. Revolution, legislation and autonomy Gilli Bush-Bailey
    2. Spectacle, intellect and authority: the actress in the eighteenth century Elizabeth Eger
    3. Cultural formations: the nineteenth-century touring actress and her international audiences Gail Marshall
    4. The actress as photographic icon: from early photography to early film David Mayer
    5. The actress and the profession: training in England in the twentieth century Lucie Sutherland
    6. 'Out of the ordinary': exercising restraint in the post-war years John Stokes
    7. Icons and labourers: some political actresses Tony Howard
    Part II. Professional Opportunities:
    8. The actress as manager Jo Robinson
    9. By herself: the actress and autobiography, 1755–1939 Viv Gardner
    10. The screen actress from silence to sound Christine Gledhill
    11. 'Side doors and service elevators': racial constraints for actresses of colour Lynette Goddard
    Part III. Genre, Form and Tradition:
    12. Mirroring men: the actress in drag Jacky Bratton
    13. 'Studies in hysteria': actress and courtesan, Sarah Bernhardt and Mrs Patrick Campbell Elaine Aston
    14. Beyond the muse: the Spanish actress as collaborator Maria M. Delgado
    15. Going solo: an historical perspective on the actress and the monologue Maggie B. Gale
    16. Changing Shakespeare Penny Gay.

  • Editor

    Maggie B. Gale, University of Manchester
    Maggie B. Gale is Chair in Drama at the University of Manchester.


    John Stokes, King's College London
    John Stokes is Professor of Modern British Literature in the Department of English, King's College London.


    Maggie B. Gale, John Stokes, Gilli Bush-Bailey, Elizabeth Eger, Gail Marshall, David Mayer, Lucie Sutherland, Tony Howard, Jo Robinson, Viv Gardner, Christine Gledhill, Lynette Goddard, Jacky Bratton, Elaine Aston, Maria M. Delgado, Penny Gay

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