The rise and fall of the passions of Elizabeth Barry, reading Restoration figures of the first modern actress in the civic legacy of Sir William D'Avenant

David U. Garfinkle. "The rise and fall of the passions of Elizabeth Barry, reading Restoration figures of the first modern actress in the civic legacy of Sir William D'Avenant." Diss. U of Washington, 2010.

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This two-part study investigates sample stage figures of Elizabeth Barry from the Restoration stage between 1675 and 1695. Part One collates the extant evidence for a biographical history of Elizabeth Barry (1658-1713) considered as the "greatest actress of the seventeenth century." The three chapters of Part One identify her royalist origins and formative influences, her career as a professional actress, and the influence of her private life on her public celebrity based on the literary archive. After an historical reconstruction of the role of the passions in the methods of seventeenth-century acting, Part Two investigates sample case studies of the figures of the passions, as the object of inquiry, in the career and celebrity of a powerful and influential actress, as the historical subject. With a focus upon the female figures on the stage, the study speculates on how the presence of women and the impact of the passions of the actress contributed to the legacy of Sir William D'Avenant's civic mission for a noble drama. The case studies draw on methods from interaction and social construction theory, historical criticism, and rhetorical and dramaturgical analysis, for a feminist project of "producible interpretation" in theatre history. The study is framed by three images of the actress that reveal the changing roles of the female figure in the emergent status of women within the English conception of theatrical "greatness." The study contributes to our understanding of the public impact of women on the stage, the dramatic construction of the feminine figure in Anglophone theatre, and offers a revision to patriarchal theatre history to claim a central and significant contribution of the first modem actress in England.

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Status of Research or Work: 
Completed/published