Open Access (free)
Female theatre workers and professional practice

Stage women, 1900–50 explores the many ways in which women conceptualised, constructed and participated in networks of professional practice in the theatre and performance industries between 1900 and 1950. A timely volume full of original research, the book explores women’s complex negotiations of their agency over both their labour and public representation, and their use of personal and professional networks to sustain their careers. Including a series of case studies that explore a range of well-known and lesser-known women working in theatre, film and popular performance of the period. The volume is divided into two connected parts. ‘Female theatre workers in the social and theatrical realm’ looks at the relationship between women’s work – on- and offstage – and autobiography, activism, technique, touring, education and the law. Part II, ‘Women and popular performance’, focuses on the careers of individual artists, once household names, including Lily Brayton, Ellen Terry, radio star Mabel Constanduros, and Oscar-winning film star Margaret Rutherford. Overall, the book provides new and vibrant cultural histories of women’s work in the theatre and performance industries of the period.

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The Actresses’ Franchise League, activism and politics 1908–58
Author: Naomi Paxton

This book provides the first detailed account of the work of the Actresses' Franchise League, taking the story of the organisation further than ever before. Formulated as a historiographically innovative critical biography of the League over the fifty years of the organisation’s activities, this book invites a total reassessment of the League within both twentieth-century industry networks and accepted narratives of the development of political theatre in the UK.

Making a genuine contribution to both theatre and suffrage histories, this book looks in detail at the performative propaganda of the suffrage movement and the role of feminist actresses as activists during and after the campaign for Votes for Women. It explores the extensive networks of political and theatrical activism and social campaigning through which suffragist performers, playwrights and producers shaped their careers, and reveals how determined the Actresses' Franchise League was to be visible in public space and to create equal opportunities for women in the theatre industry.

Drawing on archival material, this book shows how members and allies of the League addressed a broad range of political and social issues through their work, how they presented and represented women and womanhood and how the organisation, formed and embedded in the Edwardian period, diversified during and after the First and Second World Wars.

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Naomi Paxton

82 3 Vi si bi li ty The ordinary man in the crowd, whether he confesses it or no, is impressed by the sight of some well-​known stage favourite exquisitely dressed, belying every Suffrage caricature and poster, and bravely carrying her own banner, with the rose and green ensigns of the A.F.L., from Cleopatra’s Needle to the Albert Hall.1 The League participated in mass marches, processions and demonstrations for and with all the suffrage societies, becoming part of what Barbara Green has referred to as ‘the decorative performances of street theater’.2 The

in Stage Rights!

This book studies the mother figure in English drama from the mid-sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. It explores a range of genres from popular mystery and moral plays to drama written for the court and universities and for the commercial theatres, including history plays, comedies, tragedies, romances and melodrama. Familiar and less-known plays by such diverse dramatists as Udall, Bale, Phillip, Legge, Kyd, Marlowe, Peele, Shakespeare, Middleton, Dekker and Webster are subject to readings that illuminate the narrative value of the mother figure to early modern dramatists. The book explores the typology of the mother figure by examining the ways in which her narrative value in religious, political and literary discourses of the period might impact upon her representation. It addresses a range of contemporary narratives from Reformation and counter-Reformation polemic to midwifery manuals and Mother's Legacies, and from the political rhetoric of Mary I, Elizabeth and James to the reported gallows confessions of mother convicts and the increasingly popular Puritan conduct books. The relations between tradition and change and between typology and narrative are explored through a focus upon the dramatised mother in a series of dramatic narratives that developed out of rapidly shifting social, political and religious conditions.

Open Access (free)
A theatre maker in every sense
Brian Singleton

8 Lily Brayton A theatre maker in every sense Brian Singleton Lily Brayton (1876–1953) is barely remembered today, overshadowed in historical accounts of British theatre history by her Australian-born husband, Oscar Asche, who penned the most commercially successful production on the London stage in the first half of the twentieth century (Chu Chin Chow, His Majesty’s Theatre, 1916–21). Brayton was lead actress in most of the productions directed by Asche, and was generally regarded by contemporary critics as one of the best Shakespearean actresses of the early

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
The art of performance and her work in film
Katharine Cockin

10 Ellen Terry The art of performance and her work in film Katharine Cockin The reputation of Ellen Terry (1847–1928) as an actor is associated with her stage performances at the Lyceum Theatre, London from 1878 to 1902, and in Shakespearean roles, notably Beatrice, Portia and Lady Macbeth. However, in 1916 she ventured into popular cultural performances in film and music hall. It is her film acting at the time of the rise of the film industry in the 1920s in particular which is considered here as a new dimension to the historiography of Terry’s career. Nina

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession
Catherine Hindson

4 Offstage labour Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession Catherine Hindson Though their stage performances often feature as the subjects of focused attention, early twentieth-century actresses functioned as part of a wider theatre industry that was sustained by the non-theatrical social, material, consumer and economic cultures that surrounded it. In this context, the onstage performances offered by actresses of this period were just one element of more expansive, diverse professional repertoires that also included offstage

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Different voices, voicing difference
Gilli Bush-Bailey

11 Mabel Constanduros Different voices, voicing difference Gilli Bush-Bailey On 3 October 1929, The Stage published its weekly column on ‘The Variety Stage’, beginning with a review of the current entertainment on offer at Oswald Stoll’s ‘people’s palace of entertainment’, the London Coliseum: Making her first appearance in variety here this week is Mabel Constanduros, an artist who has achieved considerable fame in broadcasting and has added thereto with appearances at concert centres. Miss Constanduros has made the study of the cockney woman and girl her

in Stage women, 1900–50
Gilli Bush-Bailey

GBB-chapter6 11/4/06 12:41 Page 157 6 Re-forming the stage The season of 1697/8 marks a crucial period in theatre history and an extraordinary chapter in the history of theatre women. In no other season on the Late Stuart stage were so many new plays by female playwrights performed by the same company in the same playhouse. Competition between the two houses was still fierce and an act of overt plagiarism by the Patent Company fuelled the ongoing animosity. The Players’ Company maintained its commercially successful edge over its rivals and this season can be

in Treading the bawds
1930s biodrama and the archive/ museum performed
Amber K. Regis

116 5 Ii Charlotte Brontë on stage: 1930s biodrama and the archive/​museum performed Amber K. Regis The Brontës were big business upon the 1930s stage. Adaptations of the sisters’ novels, particularly Charlotte’s Jane Eyre (1847), had always been popular at the box office; but from the late 1920s there was an unprecedented biodrama boom (see Appendix). ‘There have been at least a dozen plays written about the Brontës recently’, remarked C. Mabel Edgerley in 1934, reporting to the Brontë Society as corresponding secretary (Edgerley, 1934: 152). A year previously

in Charlotte Brontë