Gender differences on the stage in 1913

This week, during my research, I found 2 articles which give an insight into the views of women on the stage in 1913.

It seems that women felt the stage was an easy way to gain wealth and fame in 1913, however, whilst a few were earning a decent salary the rest were working for next to nothing. The usual wage for a women on the stage was a guinea a week, with long, gruelling days, and rehearsals sometimes lasting for weeks. Women were also expected to provide their own clothes to wear on stage (unless it was a specific costume) which also had to come out of their wage. It was usually men who were hiring these women, and assumed that they had some kind of financial support, be that a husband or a parent.

All classes of women were welcome to audition, they did not have to be specially trained, just have enough talent. Nell Gwynne from Drury Lane theatre, for example, was an orange seller before hitting the stage.

It also seemed to be quite common for women to play the role of the leading man, though this was not particularly well received. The columnist complained that he did not enjoy watching the brave, heroic male being played by a woman and it seemed to be quite common in Manchester. Arthur Collins of Drury Lane in London, however, was in agreement and always cast a man in the lead male role.

Katrina Ingram


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