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Victorian touring actressesCrossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape$
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Janice Norwood

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526133328

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526133335

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Working life in the UK

Working life in the UK

(p.85) 3 Working life in the UK
Victorian touring actresses

Janice Norwood

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the actress’s working life in the UK, looking particularly at the material business of touring and showing how women’s careers reflected and were impacted by changes in the industry and the environmental circumstances in Victorian cities. The nature of nineteenth-century travel meant that accidents and injury were common while working conditions in the theatre placed arduous demands upon the actress’s body, stamina and mental health. Featured examples demonstrate that the performer’s ability to accommodate bouts of ill health while working depended partly on her wealth and status within the profession. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is used to analyse how the actress’s engagements were organised. To explore the advantages of different modes of touring, the practicalities negotiated by a ‘star’ performer operating in provincial theatres is contrasted with those of an actress in a touring company, revealing disparate patterns of financial remuneration, mileage and agent employment.

Keywords:   provincial theatre, travel, health, accident, mental health, star, Actor-Network Theory, engagement, agent, touring company

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