Emma Futhey of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences University will present a virtual seminar, “‘For the entertainment of her friends’: Working Actresses, Society & Performance in Boston 1790-1830,” on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, from 5 until 6:15 pm. Elizabeth Maddock Dillon of Northeastern University will provide comment.
Futhey’s presentation explores the lives of working actresses and theatre managers in Boston through the early republic, contextualizing their places in the developing cultural identity of an “American” city.
Using actress-manager Elizabeth Powell as a case study, and supplementing her story with additional figures, this paper illuminates how the working actress presented herself to potential employers and audiences, creatively deploying her femininity in an attempt to balance the dueling tensions of economic practicality and gendered social expectations.
In this way, patterns of performative behavior are constructed, revealing new aspects of the working actress’s life in Boston.
This presentation is part of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar series. The seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a per-circulated paper.
Purchasing the $25 seminar subscription gives you advance access to the seminar papers of all seven seminar series for the current academic year. You can subscribe online here. Subscribers for the current year may login to view currently available essays.
This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 pm. Register to attend in person here.
Register to attend online here. The virtual seminar begins at 5 pm and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.
Illustration: The Boston Theatre balcony vestibule.