Review: CiJi Ware’s “Wicked Company”

Rating: (5 quills)

CiJi Ware’s “Wicked Company  is a historic novel about theatre and female playwrights during Drury Lane theatre district’s heyday.

In 18th century London the glamorous Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres were all the rage, beckoning every young actor, actress, playwright, and performer with the lure of the stage lights. But competition and back-biting between theatre owners, patrons, actors, and writers left aspiring playwrights with their work stolen, profits withheld, and reputations on the line. In this exciting and cutthroat world, a young woman with a skill for writing and an ambition to see her work performed could rise to glory, or could lose all in the blink of an eye.
For a female, things were harder still, as the chances of a “petticoat playwright” getting past the government censor was slim. Censor, Edward Capell was appointed by the British Parliament to review and censor all scripts before they could be produced on London’s stages. Indiscriminately, he could change, cut, or delete anything that he found objectionable both professionally and personally…..and he often did; censoring text based upon some personal tenant or belief.

As a twenty-first century “female scribbler” {as women were referred to in those times}
I felt a profound appreciation for my freedom of speech while reading about this historic time and the total power that censors, like Mr. Capell, wielded. It is unfathomable to me that a censor could slash any part of my novel “Women Outside the Walls”. A fiction that is near and dear to my heart because of the women that I interviewed who lived that life outside the walls. Or my collection of short plays which opens up a dialogue amongst young people about real life issues that they must face every day.

Few women writers were successful under their real names and often wrote under a male Pseudonym [pen name]. They wrote under secrecy and deceit in order to have their plays produced. Note: Jane Austen [1775-1817] broke this pattern by insisting that her publisher use her real name. ~~TS

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