Children and Theatre in Victorian Britain by A. Varty

By A. Varty

This is often an interdisciplinary learn of kids at the Victorian degree, reading the social and ancient context within which youngsters labored within the theatre in the course of the 19th century.

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Adult projections were not confined to manipulations of the figure of the child, but could also affect mature self-perception. A pivotal chapter, between the explorations of arcadia and the scrutiny of social conditions, presents the conventions of Victorian pantomime as means of fashioning the audience as an idealised body of children, creating the child as consumer. The study continues with an account of the development and eventual domination of the awareness of child as social being over the clandestine or celebratory appeals of the juvenile performer.

Her first appearance in London was ‘Giselle’ during Colonel Mapleson’s opera season at Drury Lane, from which she continued to tour, working in New York for four years. In 1875 she returned to Drury Lane in the dual capacity of ‘ballet-directress’ and première danseuse. This was followed by a season at Her Majesty’s Theatre and a brief trip to Dublin where she took her last bow as a performer. Living in London she devoted the next thirty years to choreography and private ballet lessons, becoming something of an institution in her own right: Lanner’s appearance before the curtain was the consummation of a ‘first night’ at the Empire.

37 Jeune, the great apologist for such employment, was keen to emphasise its virtues, which included the discipline learned during training and the potential social advantages gained from the employment itself. If in 1889 Nolan was regarded as one of the largest agencies for theatrically trained children, by 1909 it was the longest-standing. An article in Cassell’s Magazine on ‘Fairies of the Footlights’ focuses on their training at ‘Happy Nolan’s’, claiming that the school was ‘established nearly half a century ago by an Irish schoolmaster in Chelsea’ when: it was the first accredited school for stage children in England.

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