TitleNew woman theatre and the British avant-garde, 1879-1925
NameDovale, Leslie Ann (author), Diamond, Elin (chair), Buckley, Matthew S. (internal member), Williams, Carolyn (internal member), Donkin, Ellen (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Women in the theater--Great Britain--History--19th century,
Women in the theater--Great Britain--History--20th century,
Theater--Great Britain--History and criticism--19th century,
Theater--Great Britain--History and criticism--20th century,
Feminist theater--Great Britain--History--19th century,
Feminist theater--Great Britain--History--20th century
DescriptionThis dissertation explores how women theatre professionals on the forefront of suffrage activism—playwrights, directors, dramaturg and actresses—influenced late Victorian and modernist British drama. The theatre artists featured in this project include playwright-translator-actress-producer Elizabeth Robins, playwright-translator-actress Christopher St. John (Christabel Marshall), and director-designer-actress-producer Edith Craig. Recent studies that consider their work treat first wave feminist or suffrage drama as a separate analytic category. In contrast, I explore their contributions to British modernist drama and re-situate their work in the context of international theatrical modernism. My project covers a range of innovative theatrical activities by these female dramatists, centered on their avant-garde impulses to deconstruct the subject and continually experiment with form. I consider Robins‘ central role in translating, performing in and directing interpretations of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramas, her later feminist critique of Ibsen and subsequent new ways of portraying female political subjectivity in her plays Alan‘s Wife (1893) and Votes for Women (1907). My chapter on Edith Craig considers how her feminism intersected with her extensive theatrical career and showcases some of her contributions to British modernist theatre. I illustrate Craig‘s engagements with international avant-gardism through an analysis of two plays she directed: a Russian symbolist drama and Japanese marionette play. My final chapter reviews the theatrical career of little-studied playwright Christopher St. John, with particular attention to dramaturgical activities with the Pioneer Players (literary management, translation, and advocacy for experimental European drama). I discuss St. John‘s many important contributions to documenting women‘s history and analyze her play The First Actress, arguing for her innovative appropriation of the pageant form for political ends. My literary analysis of dramatic texts is enriched by archival research into the lives of these artists, their correspondence, theatrical reviews, working documents such as promptbooks (play texts with actress‘s or director‘s notes), lighting and sound plots, and writings by their colleagues and other contemporaries. In this dissertation I hope to contribute to the history of avant-garde and modernist drama studies in Britain and add dimension to the cultural histories of first wave feminism and fin-de-siècle theatre.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Leslie Ann Dovale
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.