Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Little Women Make Theater at Home

Image result for little women 1933 play
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868-69) is one of those hugely important texts in children's literature and the history of childhood. It was an important reflection of, and contributor to, girls and girl culture in the nineteenth century. In 1933, it became an early entry in the canon of family film as we know it with this film adaptation from RKO, directed by George Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn (it was the third film adaptation, but the first of the sound era).

As Marah Gubar has noted, the Christmas play-acting scene in Little Women gives us some insight into the importance of home theatricals in the nineteenth century, which, as in this scene, were created by young people for audiences that were often mostly other kids. These home theatricals had a symbiotic relationship with professional theater, prompting the production of professional children's plays, which in turn influenced private performance, and so the cycle goes.

This scene as it appeared in the 1933 film is featured here.

Gubar, Marah. Peter Pan as Children’s Theatre: The Issue of Audience.” In The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature, edited by Julia Mickenberg and Lynne Vallone. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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