The Career of Mrs. Anne Brunton Merry in the American Theatre - Cover
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The Career of Mrs. Anne Brunton Merry in the American Theatre

by Gresdna A. Doty

170 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Performing Arts and Drama

  Paperback / 9780807125120 / March 1999

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Philadelphia was the theatrical center of the United States, owing largely to the elegant Chestnut Street Theatre and its excellent resident company of actors. The survival and success of the company can be greatly attributed to Anne Brunton Merry.

Mrs. Merry, who made her first appearance on stage at the ago of sixteen, experienced meteoric success in the English theatre, and after only three years was being favorably compared with te famed Sarah Siddons. She came to the Chestnut Street company in 1796, tow years afer its formation, and through her portrayals of Shakespearean heroines, as well as roles in sentimental comedy and in tragedy, she soon became the most celebrated actress in the American theatre. She established new standards of excellence in her stage portrayals, and during her tenure as manger of the Chestnut Street theatre, she transferred her own high standards to the entire company, demanding a carefully executed theatre operation and advancing the acting profession to a new level of social acceptance.

In this sympathetic portrait of an unusual woman, Professor Doty traces Mrs. Merry’s career from its beginning at the Bristol theatre in England in 1785 to its tragically early end in 1808. From contemporary newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, and diaries, the author has fashioned a fascinating story of a great actress and her contribution to the development of American repertory theatre during this vital period. 

Gresdna Ann Doty is Alumni Professor Emerita in the Department of Theatre at Louisiana State University. She is co-editor of Inside the Royal Court Theatre, 1956-1981. Her articles have appeared in Southern Speech Journal, Theatre Survey, and The Quarterly Journal of Speech.

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