Against the background of commedia, where women were gaining access to the stage, it is useful to look briefly for contrast at three influential theatrical arenas where the absence of women was staunchly maintained. The first two have links with educational establishments: the boys’ companies in England, and the theatrical productions connected to the Jesuit schools and colleges on the continent. The third arena concerns the theatrical restrictions imposed by the Catholic Church in the papal states. This latter is examined through an eye-witness account: Goethe’s essay of 1787 entitled ‘Women’s Parts Played by Men in the Roman Theatre’.
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