Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Restoring Britain: Performances of Stuart succession in Dublin, Edinburgh, and London
by O'Rourke, Deirdre, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2014, 268; 3582730
Abstract (Summary)

Though much worthy scholarship exists about English Restoration theatre, few studies examine the intersections between theatrical activity in London and its British “sister” cities of Dublin and Edinburgh and the stakes of Stuart restoration and British union for all three kingdoms expressed through theatre and performance. This dissertation is a historiographical reconfiguration of the Restoration period that analyzes how theatre and performance in Dublin, Edinburgh, and London contributed to Charles II’s reestablishment of Stuart rule and British union. My project brings together new British history and performance studies to uncover the British theatrical and cultural performances that re-defined union during Charles II’s restoration.

I examine Stuart succession through three case-studies: beheadings, Shakespeare adaptations, and the actress. I analyze beheadings as performance events that map a history of Stuart succession through the triple beheadings of Charles I and his Irish and Scottish viceroys. Through their speeches on the scaffold, Charles I and his viceroys made themselves enduring symbols of Stuart monarchy. Charles II then reestablished execution as a royal power, executing and publicly displaying the corpses of the regicides. He highly regulated performances of execution in the theatre, however, especially plays that restaged royal executions from British history. I then examine the ways in which Shakespeare adaptations interrogated past and present British union through plays that betrayed the tensions between the three kingdoms. I consider adaptation a practice shared by Charles II and playwrights, both invested in restoring Britain’s cultural past. Through their adaptations, theatre artists created Shakespeare into an origin myth of the English theatre. Lastly, I argue that Charles II’s introduced the professional actress on the public stage as a surrogate of two past traditions of female performance, the boy actor and the female courtier, who served his agenda to provide his British subjects with public access to himself and his court. Charles II revived Britannia, the female personification of Britain, to capitalize on the popularity of public female performance and create public support and ownership over the reunited Britain.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jackson-Schebetta, Lisa
Commitee: Favorini, Attilio, McConachie, Bruce, Waldron, Jennifer
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Theatre Arts
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, Theater History
Keywords: Adaptation Britannia, Charles I, King of England, Charles II, Dublin, Edinburgh, England, Ireland, London, New British history, Restoration theatre, Scotland, Shakespeare, William
Publication Number: 3582730
ISBN: 978-1-321-21056-9
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