Call for Papers: A
The First Actresses: 1660-1930s
Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24, 2014
women. Reflect on the whole history of women:
do they not have
to be first of all and above all else actresses?
Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science, 1881
Arriving centuries late to
the theatre profession, women have met with hostility, censorship, bans, and
working conditions often well below those available to their male
counterparts, not least of
which was economic security much lower than that of actors. This symposium
focuses on the actress with a view to promoting, identifying and encouraging
research and scholarly directions on the work and lives of actresses from the
17th through the early 20th centuries.
In addition to keynote
speaker Sharon Marcus (The Orlando Harriman Professor at Columbia University),
the symposium will present two performances and an exhibition.
Addressing the centuries
long prohibition on women acting, The
First Actress by Christopher
St. John (Christabel Marshall) features one of the women purported to be the ‘first actress’ to take the
role of Desdemona in Othello in 1661.
This short play from 1911 Britain is a touchstone for the symposium as it
addresses a range of issues: the prejudice against the women performing, their
‘natural’ inadequacies as artists in the public realm, and women’s agency in demanding
access to both the public stage and the right to vote. The second performance,
a premiere of a solo work, looks at the life of the celebrated Columbus, Ohio
artist with an international reputation Elsie
Janis (1889-1956). This piece is commissioned for this symposium and
will be created by Victoria Matsos, from the
Theatre Research Institute’s Elsie Janis
Collection. Finally we will mount an exhibition
on the actress drawn from multiple collections of the
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.
The symposium with presentations,
exhibition, and performances will provide a forum for scholarship to be shared,
work by practitioner/researchers to be experienced, and for future directions
on the study of the actress to emerge. We seek paper proposals from all disciplines working on issues related
to the symposium theme and from graduate students, independent scholars, and
Email 300 word abstract, 100 word bio
to both the symposium organizers: Nena Couch (Head, Thompson Library Special
Collections, The Ohio State University Libraries) email@example.com and Lesley
Ferris (Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre) firstname.lastname@example.org
by March 15, 2014.
Sponsored by The Ohio State
University’s Department of Theatre and University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence
and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute. With support from Arts and Humanities Research
Grant, and the Women’s Place.