Enter the Actress: The First Woman in the Theatre

Enter the Actress: The First Woman in the Theatre

Enter the Actress: The First Woman in the Theatre

Enter the Actress: The First Woman in the Theatre

Excerpt

The history of women in the theatre begins, surprisingly enough in view of their classic exclusion from the stage, at the very source and centre of its being; begins in that dim primeval grove where our first forbear, priestess of life, protectress of fertility, propitiated the unknown in mystic dances of magical intent. If we can believe the learned archæologists who have spent their lives deciphering the hieroglyphics of the past, religionw and the theatre were born together, there where the eternal mystery of the continuation of life was first realised, feared, and longed for. While primitive man hunted and fought, destroying in order to live, the women of the tribe made the first attempts at agriculture, tilled the soil, planted seed, protected the useful creatures, bore and reared the children -- were, indeed, the vehicles of a tangible immortality. And when any of these processes went wrong, it was the woman who must call upon and obtain the aid of those hidden forces with which she was so mysteriously allied. Clothed in the symbols of desired increase, the head woman of the tribe took upon herself the attributes of godhead. By costume and mimicry she became the very power she invoked, forcing it to do her bidding by the magic of her gestures. Around her, her companions enacted the dance-drama of their needs, the crudest of all dances before the Lord -- the first tragic chorus.

We know these things but vaguely through a haze of . . .

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