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Staging the Other in Nineteenth-Century British Drama

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Edited By Tiziana Morosetti

The body of the «Other» – exotic, unfamiliar, fascinating – is the topic of this collection of essays on nineteenth-century British theatre. Arranged chronologically, the volume traces visual representations of the Other across the nineteenth century as well as their legacy in contemporary theatrical culture. Essays explore the concept, politics and aesthetic features of the «exotic» body on stage, be it the actual body of the actor or actress, or the fictional, «picturesque» bodies brought on stage.
Far from focusing exclusively on the subaltern, colonial subject, this volume addresses the Other in its wider meaning, focusing on case studies as famous as Edwin Forrest and Ira Aldridge or as neglected as that of the Māori who appeared on the London stage in the 1860s. Written by an international group of scholars, this collection offers an informed, updated insight into the extensive and multifaceted presence of the non-British in both Georgian and Victorian drama, investigated through new lenses and materials to shed light on the complex engagement of nineteenth-century British culture with alterity.
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Marianne Schultz - ‘An Interest Must Be Strong Now-a days to Raise Much Enthusiasm in an Audience, but It May Be, at the Same Time, of an Unpleasant Nature’: Māori, New Zealand and Empire on Stage 1862–1864

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MARIANNE SCHULTZ

‘An Interest Must Be Strong Now-a days to Raise Much Enthusiasm in an Audience, but It May Be, at the Same Time, of an Unpleasant Nature’: Māori, New Zealand and Empire on Stage 1862–1864

ABSTRACT

In July 1862 as Governor Sir George Grey prepared to arm British Militia and local Volunteer forces against Māori (indigenous New Zealander) in New Zealand’s North Island, a ‘troupe of Maori Warrior Chiefs, Wives and Children’ appeared in melodramas in Sydney and Melbourne. At the conclusion of their Australian run, the Māori performers travelled to the United Kingdom and performed from London to Edinburgh until June 1864. This essay focuses on performance events by Māori and European entertainers between 1862–1864 and highlights the corporeal representations of New Zealand on stage that reflected the purposes of the 1860s wars, namely ‘to establish the rule of British law and promote racial “amalgamation”’ (Alan Ward, A Show of Justice: Racial Amalgamation in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand, 1974, p. 164). Though a vision emerged in these melodramas that reflected successful settlement, co-operative natives and beautiful landscape, this essay addresses questions of imperialism and colonialism overlaid with contemporary ideas of race and ‘civilized’ culture versus ‘savage’ authenticity. The presentation of melodramas featuring Māori performing songs, games and war dances, i.e. acting ‘Māori’, and non-Māori acting ‘British’, reflect not only contemporary modes of popular theatricality but also illustrate the way that...

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