Star Victorian Shakespearean actresses had immense artistic, economic, and social volition. Their most iconoclastic fin-de-siècle performances became crucibles for debates on gender and sexuality in popular theatre, despite scholarship’s emphasis on Ibsen, Shaw, and ‘sex problem’ plays. Actresses’ movements between Shakespearean and fin-de-siècle roles reveal consonances and collisions within the fin-de-siècle repertory. Fin-de-siècle Shakespeare and contemporary Victorian theatre culture conditioned each other in unexpected ways. These performers’ self-promotion has the power to disrupt our historiographies of both celebrity and the theatrical event. Shakespeare performance traditions moved between actresses via little-studied performance genealogies and thriving creative networks, in ways that tendencies in Shakespeare studies have sometimes obscured.
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