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Title: The impact of the introduction of actresses on English drama, 1660-1700
Author: Howe, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1988
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The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the dramatic results of introducing women to replace boy-actors in female roles on the public stage. The impact of the actresses is examined in terms of both the general dramatic consequences of changing the sex of a performer from male to female and the individual influences of the various major actresses who emerged. The thesis begins with an investigation of the exploitation of the female physique in Restoration drama. It examines the treatment of breeches roles after 1660 and shows how sexual relationships in both comedy and tragedy could be substantially changed through the visual, physical dimension provided by real women. The ensuing chapters explore the way in which playwrights were influenced by the popular success of leading actresses in certain types of role and wrote plays around these women and their specialities. In particular, the genesis and development of she-tragedy, the gay couple, the prostitute-mistress figure and the pairing of contrasting female types is traced in relation to the actresses who made these conventions and characters popular. Thus the presence of a particular actress at a particular time may be seen to have crucially affected the course of the drama. The thesis also examines the impact of the actresses' own actual or reputed characters on the roles written for them. It seeks to ascertain the exact nature of the relationship between the leading actresses and their public and how far spectators' knowledge of the women's own personalities affected the type of roles they were given. The study concludes with a brief comment on the scope and general nature of the actresses' influence on Restoration drama.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theater History