theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Tales of domestic drudgery, rigid dress codes, and a regimented daily life create a bleak portrait of the 19th century woman: she sits tightly corseted in the drawing-room, knitting booties and antimacassars for the newest of a dozen children. But this isn’t the whole story–American women of the late 1800s were hardly as placid as much of history suggests.
While it’s true that many women worked only at home, the 1800s also spawned a generation of female activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and theater actresses. The backlash against female entertainers was particularly intense. Women in stage productions of all kinds, from vaudeville performances to drama, were seen as “fallen women” with loose morals who wouldn’t conform to 19th century feminine ideals of domestic duty and humble purity. In fact, for decades the words “actress” and “whore” had…
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