University of Delaware Press, 2009

This book examines how women shaped theatre and how theatre shaped women during the most explosive time in American women's history: from pre-enfranchisement through 1920, when women won the right to vote. In 1880, women had no place in public life and, likewise, few opportunities in theater beyond acting. Fifty years later women were both voting and directing on Broadway in numbers that had never before been matched-and most likely never will be. Women's involvement in suffragist parades, drama clubs, the Little Theatre Movement, and Broadway productions created a dialogic relationship between public performance and the sociopolitical environment. This study asks readers to reconsider their current understanding of history, specifically, the way in which that history has shaped our current understanding of the early twentieth-century American woman and by implication how the early twentieth-century woman shaped contemporary theatre.