The First English Actresses: Women and Drama, 1660-1700

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 4, 1992 - Drama - 240 pages
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Before the Restoration of Charles II there were no professional actresses on the English stage, and female roles had almost always been played by men. This book describes how and why women were permitted to act on the public stage after 1660, and the consequences of their arrival. Elizabeth Howe opens up a fascinating subject to nonspecialists. Beginning with a general account of the workings of Restoration theater, she explains the treatment received by the actresses and how their sexuality was exploited. The book addresses questions that are relevant to women's issues in every period: how far did the advent of women players alter dramatic portrayals of women? Did this encourage more or less equality between the sexes? Although in one sense merely playthings for a small male elite, the pioneering actresses also represent a new female voice in society and a new place in discourse.

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About the author (1992)

Elizabeth Howe is Head of Maths and Numeracy at St Monica's Collete, Epping, a large Catholic school in Melbourne's north. She has presented booked-out sessions at the MAV Annual conference as well as publishing works for the MAV and for Learning Matters. Under her guidance, St Monica's received the State Numeracy Award in 2004, the only secondary school to receive the award.

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