New Lines: Mary Ann Yates, The Orphan of China, and the new she-tragedy

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Abstract

This essay identifies a significant break in eighteenth-century tragedy from feminocentric tales of fallen women begging (the audience) for forgiveness and redemption to a different kind of she-tragedy, in which the heroine is neither fallen nor sexually desired, but rather transcends nation and politics with the “natural” moral force of maternal love. I argue that this shift was made possible/legible by Susannah Cibber’s ill-health, which forced Arthur Murphy to reconceive The Orphan of China’s heroine and allowed a rival actress, Mary Ann Yates, to step into this new role and to establish a tragic ‘line’ defined in opposition to that of her predecessor. The essay demonstrates the significance of this shift by tracing The Orphan of China’s convoluted path from the French to the English stage and reading that tragedy through the lens of its earlier translations and Douglas, the play Covent Garden mounted in opposition to The Orphan of China.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • actress
  • performance history
  • adaptation
  • Tragedy

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