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

Valladares, Susan

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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.


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

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 27, 2021
Publication Date 2022-04
Deposit Date Aug 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2021
Journal Review of English Studies
Print ISSN 0034-6551
Electronic ISSN 1471-6968
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 309
Pages 321-343


Published Journal Article (Advance Online Version) (471 Kb)

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Advance Online Version © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press 2021<br /> 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

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