Saturday, February 2nd 2013
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Publication: Stagestruck The Business of Theater in Eighteenth-Century France and Its Colonies by Lauren R. Clay

Cornell University ¨Press

Publication: Stagestruck The Business of Theater in Eighteenth-Century France and Its Colonies by Lauren R. Clay
Stagestruck traces the making of a vibrant French theater industry between the reign of Louis XIV and the French Revolution. During this era more than eighty provincial and colonial cities celebrated the inauguration of their first public playhouses. These theaters emerged as the most prominent urban cultural institutions in prerevolutionary France, becoming key sites for the articulation and contestation of social, political, and racial relationships. Combining rich description with nuanced analysis based on extensive archival evidence, Lauren R. Clay illuminates the wide-ranging consequences of theater's spectacular growth for performers, spectators, and authorities in cities throughout France as well as in the empire’s most important Atlantic colony, Saint-Domingue.

Clay argues that outside Paris the expansion of theater came about through local initiative, civic engagement, and entrepreneurial investment, rather than through actions or policies undertaken by the royal government and its agents. Reconstructing the business of theatrical production, she brings to light the efforts of a wide array of investors, entrepreneurs, directors, and actors—including women and people of color—who seized the opportunities offered by commercial theater to become important agents of cultural change.

Portraying a vital and increasingly consumer-oriented public sphere beyond the capital, Stagestruck overturns the long-held notion that cultural change flowed from Paris and the royal court to the provinces and colonies. This deeply researched book will appeal to historians of Europe and the Atlantic world, particularly those interested in the social and political impact of the consumer revolution and the forging of national and imperial cultural networks. In addition to theater and literary scholars, it will attract the attention of historians and sociologists who study business, labor history, and the emergence of the modern French state.

Table of content

Introduction: The Making of a French Theater Industry

1. Investing in the Arts

2. Designing the Civic Playhouse

3. The Extent and Limits of State Intervention

4. Directors and the Business of Performing

5. The Work of Acting

6. Consumers of Culture

7. The Production of Theater in the Colonies

Epilogue: Culture, Commerce, and the State

Appendix: Timeline of Inaugurations and Significant Renovations of Dedicated Public Theaters in France and the French Colonies, 1671–1789

Bibliography of Primary Sources

"French town dwellers were famously obsessed by theatergoing in the last decades of the ancien régime. Lauren R. Clay's Stagestruck analyzes how that obsession was made materially possible. She rejects the centralizing, Parisocentric, top-down perspective that has tended to dominate French theater history for an approach that seeks answers in archives out in the provinces and the colonies. This allows her a completely fresh overview of fundamental issues in the financing, construction, management, and labor system of the world of theater. This magnificently researched and ambitious work, which never loses sight of the human factor and the glamour of the stage, provides a compelling framework for understanding the cultural marketplace in which theater operated in late eighteenth-century France and its colonies."—Colin Jones, Queen Mary, University of London, author of The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon

Format Hardcover
ISBN-10 0-8014-5038-1
ISBN-13 978-0-8014-5038-9
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9780801450389
Publication Date 12 February 2013
Nb of pages 320
Illustrations 15 Illustrations
13 halftones, black & white
2 maps
Dimensions 6.1 x 9.3 in.
Weight 23 oz.
List Price $49.95

Sabine Chaouche


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