The Role Of The British Actress And Playwright

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An examination of the evolving role of the British actress and playwright within the early 18th and 19th centuries and the changing function of gender in performance.

“In terms of its theory, [socialist feminism] aims to analyse and understand the way in which relations based on class interact with relations based on gender at both the individual and social level. Socialist feminism recognizes that there are issues over which solidarity between women can cut across class, cultural and time barriers.” - Michelene Wandor on Socialist Feminism
Gender inequality has punctuated theatre since it’s infancy in classical tradition. The contemporary structure of western theatre is dictated by a specific model, or
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The title of the performer, until only decades ago, was denoted by the individual’s gender: the “actor” being male and the “actress” being female (gender performing function). In recent times the function of the performer has become the sole focus with the introduction of the term “actor” as a universal label for all thespians. This essay will attempt to assess the voice and roles of the two aforementioned women in an effort to examine the evolution of the female actor and playwright within their individual period and the changing function of gender in performance.

The formal entrance of women on the stage in England is usually credited to the epoch of the Restoration. Amongst the turbulence of the era spiked with civil unrest, religious upheaval, the first regicide noted in modern history and the initial construction of the commonwealth’s skeletal democratic foundations, the Restoration primarily bore witness to a dramatic cultural revolution. After the death of Elizabeth I and the accession of James I of Scotland, the era of ‘reason’ gave way to an era of ‘faith’. The competing ecclesiastical ideologies of the catholic church and the monarchy’s new religious testament,
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