Focusing on actresses in France during the early modern period, Virginia Scott examines how the stereotype of the actress has been constructed. The study then moves beyond that stereotype to detail the reality of the personal and artistic lives of women on the French stage, from the almost unknown Marie Ferre - who signed a contract for 12 livres a year in 1545 to perform the 'antiquailles de Rome or other histories, moralities, farces, and acrobatics' in the provinces - to the queens of the eighteenth-century Paris stage, whose 'adventures' have overshadowed their artistic triumphs. The book also investigates the ways in which actresses made invaluable contributions to the development of the French theatre in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and looks at the 'afterlives' of such women as Armande Bejart, Marquise Du Parc, Charlotte Desmares, Adrienne Lecouvreur, and Hippolyte Clairon in biographies, plays, and films.

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