Working life in the UK
in Victorian touring actresses
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This chapter examines the actress’s working life in the UK, looking particularly at the material business of touring and showing how women’s careers reflected and were impacted by changes in the industry and the environmental circumstances in Victorian cities. The nature of nineteenth-century travel meant that accidents and injury were common while working conditions in the theatre placed arduous demands upon the actress’s body, stamina and mental health. Featured examples demonstrate that the performer’s ability to accommodate bouts of ill health while working depended partly on her wealth and status within the profession. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is used to analyse how the actress’s engagements were organised. To explore the advantages of different modes of touring, the practicalities negotiated by a ‘star’ performer operating in provincial theatres is contrasted with those of an actress in a touring company, revealing disparate patterns of financial remuneration, mileage and agent employment.

Victorian touring actresses

Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape

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