Women Who Changed Society Through Theater

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Women Who Changed Society Through Theater *No Works Cited Sarah Bernhardt strides across the pages of Susan Glenn’s book like a colossus. In her nine tours of the United States between 1880 and 1918 the French-born actress and master of self-promotion made an indelible impression on the American landscape that transcended the stage. Bernhardt and other turn-of-the-20th-century female performers became leaders of and metaphors for changing gender relations, says UW historian Susan Glenn in her new book Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism published by Harvard University Press. Bernhardt and her sisters in theater, vaudeville, musical reviews and musical comedy exercised a strong influence on public consciousness in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and in changing societal concepts of womanhood, Glenn believes. “Bernhardt was the touchstone, the spectacle of spectacles. She gave women the power to define their own public image. She legitimized a strong personality for women and gave them permission to say ‘I,’ which previously would have been seen as controversial,” says Glenn. “This was a woman who made a spectacle of herself. She was larger than life, and there was never anyone like her. Even Mae West, later on, didn’t have the same impact.” Spectacle, according to Glenn was a popular term widely used at the end of the 19th century by Americans to describe all sorts of changes that were beginning to transform society. One of the biggest changes was the larger public presence of women in the workplace, streets and in the theaters. On and off the stage women were increasingly drawing attention to themselves as they began voicing their rights to education, employment, participation in politics a... ... middle of paper ... ...beautiful, but ‘listen to me’ because I have something to say about what it means to be a woman.” Shotgun Productions, founded in 1989, is a theatrical production company dedicated to expanding the role, and serving the needs of emerging women artists. Our mission is to: 1. Provide a nurturing and supportive outlet for emerging women writers, directors, actors, choreographers, video artists, designers and technicians to hone their craft. 2. Offer our community an opportunity to experience the female voice in original works that are both innovative and challenging. Shotgun Productions truly is what I'd consider to be the most organized, professionally minded group going. The degree of integrity in and genuine caring for the process as a whole shows every step of the way. Shotgun Productions deserves much more attention and support. ...Kip Rosser, playwright

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