Women on Southern Stages, 1800–1865

Performance, Gender and Identity in a Golden Age of American Theater


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About the Book

Women played an integral role in the theater of the Antebellum and Civil War South. Yet their contributions have largely been overlooked by history. Southern actresses were important public figures who helped mold gender identity through their theatrical performances. Although cast in parts written by men, they subverted the norms of femininity in their public personas and in their personal lives.
Educated and often wealthy but never accepted by the landed elite, women distinguished themselves by carving out an in-between class status, and many proved to be sophisticated entrepreneurs. Southern actresses also helped shape racial perceptions and regional politics as the South entered the Civil War.

About the Author(s)

Robin O. Warren earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia. She has published several articles on 19th-century performance in the South and has taught in the Georgia public school system for 20 years. She lives in Clarkesville, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Robin O. Warren
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 25 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9927-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2648-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. The Cast 9

   The Arnolds 11

   The Drakes 14

   The Chapmans 17

   The Placides 20

   The Ludlows and Smiths 23

   The Fields 25

   The Logans 26

   The Menken 27

   The Crisps 29

2. The Theaters 30

   Virginia and South Carolina: 1665–1774 31

   Eastern Seaboard: 1781–1860 37

   Kentucky: 1806–1860 46

   Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys: 1818–1860 49

   Civil War: 1861–1865 58

3. The Repertory 61

   Colonial Drama 61

   The Early Republic: The Rise of Melodrama 63

   Heroic Melodrama and Other “Star Vehicles” 70

   The Enduring Popularity of Shakespeare 75

   Drama During the Civil War 77

4. The Roles 80

   Childhood 82

   Courtship and Marriage 84

   Motherhood 95

5. The Job 101

   Pay 104

   Work 108

   Management 114

   Playwriting 117

6. Sex 120

   Acting Feminine 121

   Acting Masculine 127

7. Race 133

   Acting White 133

   Acting Black 138

   Acting Red 142

   Acting Yellow 151

8. The Civil War 155

Epilogue: Acting Corporate 166

Appendix: The Plays 169

   Popular Colonial and Antebellum Plays 169

   Popular Civil War Plays 205

Chapter Notes 209

Bibliography 235

Index 251

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist 2016 George Freedley Memorial Award—Theatre Library Association