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Out of all keeping: Revolution and gender upheaval in Ixion

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Abstract:

In 1868, Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes were the most popular theatrical engagement in New York City. Their burlesque performances drew immense crowds but also critical condemnation. A close reading of the source text for their American premiere Ixion: Or the Man at the Wheel reveals that the cultural anxieties that their performances raised – about gender roles, the economic viability of 'legitimate' theatre and American nationalism – were not unrelated to the themes within the script. Ixion engages with the idea of American Revolution, celebrating the nation's participatory culture while at the same time probing its limits. Although a century had elapsed between the Revolution and the Blondes' premiere, Thompson's decision to open with Ixion illustrates her willingness to use the theatre as a means to assess the country's democratic initiatives against the rigid limitations in contemporary cultural ideals.

Keywords: Burlesque; Ixion; Lydia Thompson; Olive Logan; Revolution; Thomas Paine

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/smt.5.3.275_1

Affiliations: Yale School of Drama

Publication date: January 20, 2012

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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