Debuts and learning the craft
in Victorian touring actresses
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This chapter illustrates various routes into the dramatic profession in the Victorian period and analyses the potential advantages of different means of learning acting and stagecraft through examination of the early performance history of selected actresses. Some commenced work as child performers while others began as adults after receiving private tuition from a professional, performing on the amateur stage or giving dramatic readings. Discussion of the strategy of gaining experience in provincial or minor London theatres before risking appearing on the more prestigious West End stages reveals multiple benefits in terms of skill enhancement and press and audience response. The examples are used to argue for the importance of British provincial theatres, not only as training grounds for performers but also as instrumental to the economic health and stability of both the actress and the theatrical industry.

Victorian touring actresses

Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape

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