Shaw and the Actresses Franchise League

Staging Equality


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About the Book

Early 20th century non-commercial theaters emerged as hubs of social transformation on both sides of the Atlantic. The 1904–1907 seasons at London’s Royal Court Theatre were a particularly galvanizing force, with 11 plays by Bernard Shaw—along with works by Granville Barker, John Galsworthy and Elizabeth Robins—that starred activist performers and challenged social conventions. Many of these plays were seen on American stages. Featuring more conversation than plot points, the new drama collectively urged audiences to recognize themselves in the characters.
In 1908, four hundred actresses attended a London hotel luncheon, determined to effect change for women. The hot topics—chillingly pertinent today—mixed public and private controversies over sexuality, income distribution and full citizenship across gender and class lines. A resolution emerged to form the Actresses Franchise League, which produced original suffrage plays, participated in mass demonstrations and collaborated with ordinary women.

About the Author(s)

Ellen Ecker Dolgin is a professor and Chair of English and Co-Chair of Gender Studies at Dominican College in Orangeburg, New York. She is Vice President of the International Shaw Society and former President of the Northeast Modern Language Association.

Bibliographic Details

Ellen Ecker Dolgin
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6947-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1979-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix

Preface: Shattering Stasis  1

Introduction: The Spectacular Turned Inward  5

1. Getting Past the Tableaux  19

2. Her Unrecognizable Self: Smashing the Idol of Woman  33

3. Theatre No Stranger Than Ourselves  51

4. Moving Mountains in Small Spaces: New Drama ca. 1900–1914  80

5. Breaking News: Transatlantic Theatrical Activists  113

6. Tandem Stages: Transatlantic Suffrage Drama  131

7. Crossing Aisles & Isles: 1908–World War I  158

8. Splintered Souls: 1914–1924  193

Chapter Notes  217

Bibliography  231

Index  239

Book Reviews & Awards

“a lively and valuable contribution to feminist theatre studies…stimulating…well researched”—Comparative Drama; “Dolgin’s book defines historical events in a strikingly new way by exploring the interconnectedness between Edwardian dramatists, actresses and suffragettes, and defines an unexpected cultural phenomenon merging arts and activism.”—Christopher Innes, Canada Research Chair in Performance & Culture, York University, Toronto.