Staging Gender in Behn and Centlivre: Women's Comedy and the Theatre, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Staging Gender in Behn and Centlivre

Women's Comedy and the Theatre, 1st Edition

By Nancy Copeland


208 pages

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Hardback: 9780754631255
pub: 2004-03-28
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Staging Gender in Behn and Centlivre studies the representation of gender in four of the most important plays by the leading professional women playwrights of the late Stuart period. Behn's The Rover (1677) and The Luckey Chance (1686) and Centlivre's The Busie Body (1709) and The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (1714) are first placed in their original theatrical and cultural contexts and then studied through subsequent productions and adaptations extending from the eighteenth century to the twentieth. The detailed analysis of these plays is framed by a discussion of the cultural position of the playwrights and the kind of comedy they wrote. The survival of these plays in the repertoire offers an unusual opportunity to examine the theatrical 'double life' of works by early women playwrights. The lengthy production histories of these comedies placed them in dialogue with radically different ideas of appropriate and permissible behavior for both women and men. The resulting productions, alterations, and adaptations included both feminist reinterpretations and recuperations of the plays' challenges to dominant meanings of gender. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of dramatic literature, theatre, and women's studies.


'… this is a useful study of the cultural life of four plays by pioneering professional women dramatists, which will be very helpful to students studying any aspects of Restoration drama, gender identities, or performance history.' University of Toronto Quarterly 'Women playwrights are beginning to receive the kind of attention that is their due. Staging Gender in Behn and Centlivre, an important contribution to this emerging body of work, provides us with a careful study of the performance, production and reception histories of four plays by two of the leading playwrights of the age… excellent study.' The Scriblerian

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Gender and 'intertheatricality'; The Rover; The Rover and the repertoire; The Luckey Chance; The Busie Body; The Wonder; Behn, Centlivre, and 'Restoration Comedy'; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Nancy Copeland is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Drama at the University of Toronto at Mississauga and the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, University of Toronto. Her edition of Susanna Centlivre's A Bold Stroke for a Husband was published by Broadview Press in 1995.

About the Series

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
This series presents original research on theatre histories and performance histories; the time period covered is from about 1500 to the early 18th century. Studies in which women's activities are a central feature of discussion are especially of interest; this may include women as financial or technical support (patrons, musicians, dancers, seamstresses, wig-makers) or house support staff (e.g., gatherers), rather than performance per se. We also welcome critiques of early modern drama that take into account the production values of the plays and rely on period records of performance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature