By A. Varty
This can be an interdisciplinary examine of kids at the Victorian level, interpreting the social and old context within which childrens labored within the theatre throughout the 19th century.
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Extra resources for Children and Theatre in Victorian Britain
But on this puling brat revenged I’ll be! 89 Beyond enabling children to speak both loudly and clearly, the general effect of their vocal training was to obscure traces of social class and regional origin evident in their natural speech, allowing its theatrical voice to be a mobile signifier to be fashioned as required by its role. This is borne out by a comparison between Blanchard’s dialogue for the good schoolboy Johnny Stout and the bad Tommy Green in two pantomime versions of Little Goody Two-Shoes.
93 Striking here is the speed with which such adjustments were made. During the interval between one act and the next, one child was being pacified by a dummy run while another must have been prepared to assume the role. Sometimes extraordinary measures had to be taken to ensure that children did the right thing on stage. One historian of the Old Vic marvels at the problems of stage management posed by what he calls the ‘core’ scene of a play called The Banished Brothers: a stolen child, escaping, was provided with a dog-guide.
The scene-painter is relentless, the stage-manager is relentless, and the manager must make a fortune speedily. ’ – fill their minds with fear, their lungs with foul vapour. , etc. 121 In Robertson’s view, the theatre manager treated his juvenile employees as items of theatre property, commodities and props to be disposed of purely with regard to the aesthetic effect they could be made to create and the income this could generate. In 1881 the theatre historian Percy Fitzgerald confirms the basis of Robertson’s fears for juveniles by his description of the mechanics of the transformation scene.