About this Event
Eighteenth-century theatre history is often presented as a series of conflicts; of battles, rivalries and clashes of people and plays. The personalities of the eighteenth-century stage, who were able to take their grievances to the newly-established daily press and emerging market for celebrity and theatrical gossip, make the inner workings and dysfunctions of the theatres as visible to historians as to their contemporaries. Both then and now, conflict between women has been considered especially fascinating, and stories of “rival queens” and their cat fights proliferate. However, Elaine McGirr argues that while conflict is narratively exciting, it is not normative. To tell the story of eighteenth-century theatre and its actors as a series of conflicts is to distort and deform that history. This lecture will show that rivalry is the exception, not the norm of theatrical life and history by taking a fresh look at the “rival queens” trope and offering a counternarrative of productive collaboration. The repertory and the reality of eighteenth-century theatre means that rather than a battleground, it is a space that centres women, women’s friendships and their mutual admiration.
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
Wickham Theatre, Vandyck Building, Bristol, United Kingdom