There has been little attempt to place Margaret Rutherford (1892–1972) historically, other than in a trajectory or tradition of roles typically defined as ‘eccentrics’. Even Rutherford herself referred dismissively to ‘my usual dotty old lady stuff’. This chapter, however, engages with the paradox that ‘eccentricity’, which normally refers to unconventional views or behaviour, has its own set of theatrical characteristics and is, in fact, central to the English comic inheritance. A comparative analysis is made of some of the ‘classic’ female roles that Rutherford took on, alongside an exploration of some of the famous parts she initiated, in light of the work of other contemporaneous actresses who may be said to have carried on the eccentric tradition in their own distinctive ways.
Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession
This chapter considers aspects of public charity work undertaken by actresses in the 1910s, focusing on their work selling for charitable causes within the commercial sector at Harrods department store in London. Charity labour has been overlooked in understandings of the theatre industry during this period, yet the considerable amount of voluntary work that actresses undertook was significant to the continuing improved social and cultural position of the British stage more generally. Charity work at home and overseas brought an increasing level of professionalisation to actresses’ work in the voluntary sector and wider recognition of the charitable activities they undertook.
Winifred Dolan worked as an actress, theatre administrator, teacher and producer. She outlined her early work in West End theatre in her memoir, A Chronicle of Small Beer, but this narrative does not cover her subsequent work as a drama teacher and producer of amateur theatre. This chapter examines Dolan’s West End practice as her formative experience and focuses on her subsequent career: teaching drama and designing suitable spaces for that teaching and for amateur productions. An analysis of the range of evidence left by Dolan reveals the rich and complex links between professional theatre work, the teaching profession and the amateur theatre movement in the first half of the twentieth century.
This chapter traces the evolution of Stone’s political consciousness and his articulation of America’s twentieth century outlook by revisiting JFK, the film that placed Stone centre-stage in this assault on establishment doctrine and routine. It then considers how that critique was honed in his subsequent feature films – W. - documentary work and in particular Comandante (2003) and South of the Border (2010). The chapter also revisits the debate about drama as history as well as locating Stone’s documentary work within that genre’s tradition and trends over recent years including the increasing presence of feature film aesthetics and entertainment values.
The book knits together two of the most significant themes in the social and cultural history of modern Ireland - mass emigration and religious change - and aims to provide fresh insight into both. It addresses the churches' responses to emigration, both in theory and in practice. The book also assesses how emigration impacted on the churches both in relation to their status in Ireland, and in terms of their ability to spread their influence abroad. It first deals with the theoretical positions of the clergy of each denomination in relation to emigration and how they changed over the course of the nineteenth century, as the character of emigration itself altered. It then explores the extent of practical clerical involvement in the temporal aspects of emigration. This includes attempts to prevent or limit it, a variety of facilitation services informally offered by parish clergymen, church-backed moves to safeguard emigrant welfare, clerical advice-giving and clerically planned schemes of migration. Irish monks between the fifth and eighth centuries had spread Christianity all over Europe, and should act as an inspiration to the modern cleric. Tied in with this reading of the past, of course, was a very particular view of the present: the perception that emigration represented the enactment of a providential mission to spread the faith.
The chapter considers the civilian world into which the Q.A.s returned at the end of the war and explores the options they faced. It begins with the immediate aftermath of war and the opportunities for interesting and worthwhile work that would only exacerbate the nursing sisters’ difficulties on demobilisation. This is followed by a consideration of the return to Britain and the options open for professional practice. The chapter argues that for some the option of interesting work remained, either in the colonial service or the military. However the main professional opening for returning nurses was the crisis ridden civilian hospital system that wanted and recruited cheap, malleable workers; this was not an attractive choice for demobbed nursing sisters. The chapter argues that despite nursing being a female dominated profession, the ideology that encouraged women to return to the home in the aftermath of war had significant ramifications for demobilised nurses. The social structure precluded married women from working outside the home and funds for postgraduate training available to returning male doctors were not offered to nurses. As the chapter maintains, most nursing sisters married, leaving the profession without their considerable talents and new ways of practicing.
This concluding chapter analyses two works of outdoor installation art that exemplify the production of postindustrial space. Compagnie Fer à Coudre’s Floraferrique and Fabrice Giraud’s Le Murmure des Plantes 2.0 fuse natural flora with industrial aesthetics. This chapter examines the installations as street theatre, demonstrating how they invite spectatorial participation even as they create a doubled temporality that complicates the call to action. Through their interplay of human and non-human agency, engagement with ecology, and construction of alternate pasts and futures, these projects offer new insight into street theatre's temporal, spatial, and political work.
This chapter analyses the conversion of a rural factory (camera case manufacturer Photosacs in Corbigny) into an arts centre and base of operations for street theatre company Metalovoice, a project designed to transform Corbigny into a rural cultural hub. But it risks being intelligible as part of a scenario of development that has long subordinated rural workers (especially women) to urban markets and consumers. In response, Metalovoice position themselves as artisans with familial ties to industrial heritage. The discourses produced by and about a street theatre institution and the industrial aesthetics of Metalovoice's inaugural event are linked by the folded logic of reincorporation: material from the past is resurrected for use in the present, changing the meaning of past and present in the process. Attempts to refashion history by discursively and aesthetically linking industrial workers and artists might grant both groups symbolic clout, but they might also obscure the gendered specificities of a local labour history. Through an intentionally micro-level analysis – of one event at one factory in one small town – the chapter links street theatre’s present economic function to its ability to reorder people, spaces, and times.
This chapter analyses the discourses and practices of the creative economy and reveals its fraught relationship to forms of labour and leisure it has supposedly replaced. The conversion of the Nantes shipyards into a tourist and cultural destination and base of operations for street theatre company La Machine has reconfigured the site as both public space and workspace. In keeping with the model of the creative city, spectators are invited to actively participate in the project, but this chapter questions the nature of that participation. The chapter further demonstrates that La Machine company members must simultaneously be industrial workers and replace them; they embody past repertoires even as they herald a post-Fordist transition to affective or immaterial labour. Ultimately this urban redevelopment project and its theatrical components must promote the selective memory of industry's success while smoothing over the rupture of its collapse.
The chapter maps the nursing practices on active service overseas that recovered men including, body care, feeding work, the management of pain and support for the dying. These four areas of nursing practice are commonly associated with nursing work, yet, as the chapter argues, in war zones, they demanded complex gendered negotiations. Comfort care placed the single female nurse too close to the naked male body and feeding work was allied to mothering, rather than professional practice. In the absence of sufficient medical officers in a war zone, pain relief demanded the development of scientific skills of diagnosis and prescription. The chapter examines how the nurses managed these contradictions to develop an understanding of the critical role of fundamental nursing care and create a space for themselves as experts by the bedside.