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'"Act[ing] Riotously": Theatre and Performance in Early Nineteenth-Century Jamaica'

Valladares, Susan (2022) ''"Act[ing] Riotously": Theatre and Performance in Early Nineteenth-Century Jamaica'.', Review of English studies., 73 (309). pp. 321-343.


Theatrical culture in early nineteenth-century Jamaica attests to tense relationships between tradition and innovation, acceptance and resistance. The early nineteenth century has not, however, received much in-depth treatment by historians of the Jamaican stage, who have tended to focus, instead, on the establishment of formal theatre in the eighteenth century or its revival in the post-emancipation years. In its attempts to recover the bustling auditoria that distinguished Jamaica’s most popular playhouses in the 1810s, this essay details who attended the theatre, and what kind of rules regulated their behaviour. It examines how theatregoing practices reflected the inequalities that characterised Jamaican society; assesses efforts to enforce segregation within the island’s playhouses; and investigates the entertainments that existed beyond them, especially those associated with the members of society least represented or altogether excluded from the island’s theatre auditoria – Jamaica’s free black and enslaved men and women.

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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press 2021 This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact
Date accepted:15 March 2021
Date deposited:12 August 2021
Date of first online publication:27 September 2021
Date first made open access:28 September 2021

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