AFTER THE 1800’S, “CENTURY OF ACTRESSES”, A FEW CORE POINTS ON ITALIAN ACTRESSES IN THE 1900’S
Critical studies on the theatre from the 19th and 20th centuries, even founding ones, are limited as they do not include a gender category - a paradox in a space where bodies are central. The actresses, in fact, give life to different stories, which allow for the enrichment of historical-critical reconstructions. Given the vastness of the topic, this article aims to identify some fundamental turning points. We begin with the legacy of the 19th century, rich from both a linguistic and a historical-critical viewpoint; the article moves on to the post-Duse period, which saw, on the one hand, the birth of the actor-artist’s Italian specificity and, on the other, the crisis of female leaders of theatre companies; then, the article discusses the birth of Italian theatre direction in the period following the Second World War and the reaction of a few actresses, like Anna Magnani, who aimed to re-create the reality that was to be reclaimed by the history of theatre. Finally, the article explores the breakdown caused by the New Theatre and even calls into discussion the word for “actress”, with overlaps in the fields of theatre direction and dramaturgy.