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“Write me a character!”: Rewriting the Restoration Stage in Jessica Swale’s Nell Gwynn

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2024, 37(1), pp.85-105
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : March 25, 2024
  • Accepted : April 7, 2024
  • Published : April 30, 2024

정유미 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines Jessica Swale’s creative rewriting of the Restoration stage in Nell Gwynn with a focus on the way Swale spotlights the figure of Nell Gwyn whose cultural presence can be roughly identified as England’s first generation actress and a royal mistress of Charles II. Swale’s rewriting history effectively sheds light on an individual whose influence and power has long been neglected and dismissed in literary and theatre history, which ultimately brings new perspectives to its audiences. This paper also pays much attention to how Swale’s play attempts to strengthen the personal narrative of Nell Gwyn as an actress even though Gwyn’s known acting career in history lacks details. Gwyn’s low social class, lack of formal education, and her alleged illiteracy all inevitably leaves much part of Gwyn’s personal history blank, and this paper argues that Swale successfully rewrites Gwyn by using works of feminist criticism in theatre history. Although Swale often uses her imagination to rework the actual historical timeline and known facts, Swale’s play gives a new life and voice to Nell Gwyn as a theatre enthusiast and an ever-loved actress.

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