Everyone's Theater: Literature and Daily Life in England, 1860–1914
Nearly all residents of England and its colonies between 1860 and 1914 were active theatergoers, and many participated in the amateur theatricals that defined late Victorian life. The Victorian theater was not an abstract figuration of the world as a stage, but a media system enmeshed in mass lived experience that fulfilled in actuality the concept of a theatergoing nation. Everyone's Theater turns to local history, the words of everyday Victorians found in their diaries and production records, to recover this lost chapter of theater history in which amateur drama domesticates the stage. Professional actors and playwrights struggled to make their productions compatible with ideas and techniques that could be safely reproduced in the home—and in amateur performances from Canada to India. This became the first true English national theater: a society whose myriad classes found common ground in theatrical display. Everyone's Theater provides new ways to extend Victorian literature into the dimension of voice, sound, and embodiment, and to appreciate the pleasures of Victorian theatricality.