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Home, Shipboard, and Public Theatricals in the Nineteenth Century

Home, Shipboard, and Public Theatricals in the Nineteenth Century

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      This presentation will take you on a tour through the very entertaining world of amateur theatricals in the nineteenth century. Performances classified as "amateur" (undertaken for love, not financial gain) ranged from aristocratic performances in elaborate purpose-built theaters on country estates to sailor theatricals performed on the quarterdecks of naval vessels off the coasts of India, Peru, and Japan to middle-class parlor theatricals that incorporated the efforts of the entire family, including servants.

      Dr Isbell will describe the unique features of amateur theatricals, where performers often knew spectators personally, and explore how charity theatricals provided the earliest opportunity for women to avoid accusations of impropriety when they appeared on the public stage.

Instructor Dr Mary Isbell
Location Hardtner Hall, Room 103
Dates December 16
Time 3:30 - 4:30 PM
Price Included in price for SAGE series ($55)

Instructor Bio

Mary Isbell
     Mary Isbell received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut in 2013 and she is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Associate in Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale University. Her book project explores the material conditions of nineteenth-century amateur theatricals to recover the "theatrical" as a distinct type of performance in the period and document the widespread popularity of the practice with diverse social groups including aristocrats, middle-class families, university students, office clerks, and sailors aboard naval vessels. With Judith Hawley, she co-directs the international interdisciplinary network known as RAPPT (Research into Amateur Performance and Private Theatricals; Her work has been published in Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and is forthcoming in Victorian Literature and Culture.

     Mary came to performance studies through the study of literature, and her research and teaching aims to foster conversations between these intertwined disciplines. She believes students can and should produce work that contributes to literary and performance studies and is energized by the ways in which digital pedagogy is making student contributions to these disciplines more feasible and legible. She is particularly excited about creating digital archives and recovering nineteenth-century performance practices with her students at Yale.