Dr Theresa Saxon

Principal Lecturer Transatlantic Theatre

Theresa is a member of UCLan’s Institute for Black Atlantic Research, and researches race and performance, theatre history and culture. She is currently working on a second book for Edinburgh, on Transatlantic Theatre, as well as an article about African American actor Ira Aldridge who toured Britain and Europe between 1824 and his death in 1867. Theresa is also collaborating on several projects around Irish playwright Dion Boucicault’s nineteenth-century melodramatic productions.

Theresa is a member of the of Literature and Cultures Research Group.

Projects

Transatlantic Stagings of Dion Boucicault’s “race” play, The Octoroon (1859)

Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama of race and slavery, The Octoroon, was initially staged in New York, then almost immediately pulled due to contractual disagreements between Boucicault and the Winter Garden Theatre its initial staging, however, was significant, taking place within two weeks of the execution of John Brown for his anti-slavery raid on Harper’s Ferry. Boucicault returned to England in 1860 and December 1861, Boucicault launched The Octoroon at the Adelphi: a famous battle between playwright and audience ensued, culminating in a rewriting of the fifth act of the play. In the New York production, Zoe Peyton committed suicide; in this new version, George and Zoe are united. My research so far has explored: 1. Boucicault’s rewriting of the play 2. That, in no other play did Boucicault attempt to kill off his heroine and 3. Boucicault’s transatlantic dynamic.

I have, on this project, been working in collaboration with Professor Lisa Merrill, Professor of Rhetoric, at HOFSTRA, New York, as part of the Digital Humanities research centre, based at HOFSTRA under the auspices of Professor John Bryant.

In Dahomey: A Performance Heritage

I am also exploring the various stagings of In Dahomey: A Musical Comedy, an all-African American vaudeville show that appeared on Broadway and travelled across Europe, to great acclaim, including a royal command performance in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. In this project I am looking at the articulation of black consciousness through the voices/performances of the African American vaudeville performers, often located uncomplicated stereotypes of blackness, and a product of an era prior to the overtly politicised art forms that stemmed from the Harlem Renaissance.

Publications

  • Sexual Transgression on the American Stage: Clyde Fitch, Sapho and the American Girl. Literature Compass, Volume 10, Issue 10, October 2013 pp. 735-747.
  • American Theatre: History, Content, Form. Edinburgh University Press, 2011.
  • The Art of Theatre in Nineteenth-Century America: George L. Fox, Pantomime and Artaud, Literature Compass, Volume 7, Issue 9, September 2010, pp. 753-762.
  • A Pair of Handsome Legs: From Breeches to Burlesque on nineteenth-century American stages. Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, Spring 2009, 15.1, pp.27-45.
  • Multiple Stages: Expanding American Theatre History, Introduction to Special Edition on American Theatre, (ed. Theresa Saxon) Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies Spring 2009, 15.1, pp.7-11.
  • Sexual Transgression on the American Stage: Clyde Fitch, Sapho, and the American Girl. (Literature Compass due February 2013).
  • “In Dahomey in England: A (Negative) Transatlantic Performance Heritage.” Atlantic Studies, Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 265-281, February 2016.
  • The Ghost Dance: (In)justice and Native American Performance.” European Views of the United States, Amanda Gilroy and Marietta Messmer, eds. Volume 8, April 2016, 184-204.