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This second edition of Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Modernism covers the history of modernist American Theatre through a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 2,000 cross-referenced entries on actors and actresses, directors, playwrights, producers, genres, and notable plays.
Through a series of biographical sketches of female performers and managers, Dudden provides a discussion of the conflicted messages conveyed by the early theatre about what it meant to be a woman. It both showed women as sex objects and provided opportunities for careers.
Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914
Author: Kim Marra
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Autocratic male impresarios increasingly dominated the American stage between 1865 and 1914. Many rose from poor immigrant roots and built their own careers by making huge stars out of “undiscovered,” Anglo-identified actresses. Reflecting the antics of self-made industrial empire-builders and independent, challenging New Women, these theatrical potentates and their protégées gained a level of wealth and celebrity comparable to that of Hollywood stars today. In her engaging and provocative Strange Duets, Kim Marra spotlights three passionate impresario-actress relationships of exceptional duration that encapsulated the social tensions of the day and strongly influenced the theatre of the twentieth century. Augustin Daly and Ada Rehan, Charles Frohman and Maude Adams, and David Belasco and Mrs. Leslie Carter reigned over “legitimate” Broadway theatre, the venue of greatest social cachet for the monied classes. Unlike impresarios and actresses in vaudeville and burlesque, they produced full-length spoken drama that involved special rigors of training and rehearsal to sustain a character’s emotional “truth” as well as a high level of physical athleticism and endurance. Their efforts compelled fascination at a time when most people believed women’s emotions were seated primarily in the reproductive organs and thus were fundamentally embodied and sexual in nature. While the impresario ostensibly exercised full control over his leading lady, showing fashionable audiences that the exciting but unruly New Woman could be both tamed and enjoyed, she acquired a power of her own that could bring him to his knees.Kim Marra combines methods of cultural, gender, and sexuality studies with theatre history to explore the vexed mutual dependency between these status-seeking Svengalis and their alternately willing and resistant leading ladies. She illuminates how their on- and off-stage performances, highly charged in this Darwinian era with “racial” as well as gender, sexual, and class dynamics, tapped into the contradictory fantasies and aspirations of their audiences. Played out against a backdrop of enormous cultural and institutional transformation, the volatile romance of Daly and Rehan, closeted homosexuality of Frohman and Adams, and carnal expiations of Belasco and Carter produced strange duets indeed.
With a single shot from a pistol small enough to conceal in his hand, John Wilkes Booth catapulted into history on the night of April 14, 1865. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln stunned a nation that was just emerging from the chaos and calamity of the Civil War, and the president's untimely death altered the trajectory of postwar history. But to those who knew Booth, the event was even more shocking--for no one could have imagined that this fantastically gifted actor and well-liked man could commit such an atrocity. In Fortune's Fool, Terry Alford provides the first comprehensive look at the life of an enigmatic figure whose life has been overshadowed by his final, infamous act. Tracing Booth's story from his uncertain childhood in Maryland, characterized by a difficult relationship with his famous actor father, to his successful acting career on stages across the country, Alford offers a nuanced picture of Booth as a public figure, performer, and deeply troubled man. Despite the fame and success that attended Booth's career--he was billed at one point as "the youngest star in the world"--he found himself consumed by the Confederate cause and the desire to help the South win its independence. Alford reveals the tormented path that led Booth to conclude, as the Confederacy collapsed in April 1865, that the only way to revive the South and punish the North for the war would be to murder Lincoln--whatever the cost to himself or others. The textured and compelling narrative gives new depth to the familiar events at Ford's Theatre and the aftermath that followed, culminating in Booth's capture and death at the hands of Union soldiers 150 years ago. Based on original research into government archives, historical libraries, and family records, Fortune's Fool offers the definitive portrait of John Wilkes Booth.
A Dictionary of Contemporary Views of Representative British and American Actors and Actresses, 1837-1901
Author: Donald C. Mullin
Category: Biography & Autobiography
"An informative and scholarly survey by Donald Mullin, Victorian Actors and Actresses in Review, compiles extensive critical assessments by contemporary reviewers of some 250 British and American players who performed between 1837 and 1901." Backstage