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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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Touring North America

Touring North America

(p.117) 4 Touring North America
Victorian touring actresses

Janice Norwood

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the experience of the growing number of British actress who toured in North America in the mid nineteenth century, focusing on how the specific local circumstances affected dramatic practice and performer reception. It demonstrates the impact of the volatile nature of Anglo-American relations in the aftermath of the American Civil War on those women who crossed the Atlantic in search of theatrical work. Analysing the American reception of British actresses and how it was reported at home uncovers conflicting attitudes towards gender, nationality and even beauty. The example of Adelaide Neilson, who achieved substantial transatlantic touring success, is also used to explore how gift exchange functioned within nineteenth-century American theatre, and to consider the extent to which celebrity actresses, whose images were widely featured on merchandising products, were complicit in commercial exploitation.

Keywords:   transatlantic touring, Anglo-American relations, gift exchange, celebrity, merchandising, reception, beauty, Adelaide Neilson, American theatre

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