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Introduction: The Singularity of Theatrical Celebrity

  • Mary Luckhurst
  • Jane Moody

Abstract

Celebrity, the condition of being much talked about, is hardly an invisible phenomenon in the history of British theatre. On the contrary, its discourses constitute a silent yet pervasive presence in the accounts of performing lives through which that history has been written. Theatrical celebrity leaves behind many forms of material evidence: plays, anecdotes, photographs, cartoons, programmes, reviews, portraits and costumes. But despite its ubiquity, the nature of celebrity on and off the stage has scarcely begun to be addressed.

Keywords

Private Life Theatrical Celebrity Pervasive Presence Extraordinary Actor Female Performer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Extraordinary Actors: Essays on Popular Performers, ed. Jane Milling and Martin Banham (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2004).Google Scholar
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    Leigh Woods, ‘Actors’ Biography and Mythmaking: The Example of Edmund Kean’, in Postlewait and McConachie (eds.), Interpreting the Theatrical Past, pp. 230–47.Google Scholar
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    See, for instance, David Giles, Illusions of Immortality: A Psychology of Fame and Celebrity (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000); and David Gritten, Fame: Stripping Celebrity Bare (London: Allen Lane, 2002).Google Scholar
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    Stardom: Industry ofDesire, ed. Christine Gledhill (London: Routledge, 1991), p. xiii.Google Scholar
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    The work of Richard Dyer has been pivotal here. See Stars (London: British Film Institute, 1979; revised edition 1998); Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society (London: British Film Institute, 1986); and ‘A Star is Born and the Construction of Authenticity’, in Gledhill, Stardom, pp. 132–40.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. D. Marshall, Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997). For celebrity on the early modern stage, see further Alexandra Halasz, ‘“So beloved that men use his picture for their signs”: Richard Tarlton and the Uses of Sixteenth-Century Celebrity’, Shakespeare Studies 23 (1995), 19–38, 19; Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage 1574–1642 (3rd edition; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 91–4; and Alexander Leggatt, ‘Richard Burbage: A Dangerous Actor’, in Milling and Banham, Extraordinary Actors, pp. 8–20.Google Scholar
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    Much Ado About Nothing, III.i.9, in Shakespeare: The Complete Works, general editors Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 620.Google Scholar
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    Richard Schickel, Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity (New York: Doubleday, 1985), p. 35.Google Scholar
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    See Joseph Roach, ‘It’, Theatre Journal 56:4 (2004), 555–68.Google Scholar
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    For a compelling study, see Joel H. Kaplan and Sheila Stowell, Theatre and Fashion: Oscar Wilde to the Suffragettes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Cf. Stephen Calloway, ‘Wilde and the Dandyism of the Senses’, in The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde ed. Peter Raby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 34–54.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    The term first came into usage at the end of the sixteenth century. Only with the coinage of ‘notorious’ (in use from 1603), however, did the word acquire derogatory connotations. Interestingly, the OED cites a usage of notoriety (1837) in which the word is linked specifically to actors and implies persons of dubious reputation and morality.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    See Tracy C. Davis’s groundbreaking book, The Economics of the British Stage, 1800–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary Luckhurst and Jane Moody 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Luckhurst
  • Jane Moody

There are no affiliations available

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