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 Actors in France in the 18th century 
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Post Actors in France in the 18th century
I read recently that actors in France in the 18 c were forbidden a Christian burial because of their profession. The author claimed they were considered profane by the French Catholic Church and as a result were excommunicated. He noted that some priests turned a 'blind eye' to this. It seems very strange indeed when acting was a favored past-time among the higher social classes. In our modern world this all seems quite extraordinary considering the status of actors today.
Maybe someone could enlighten me more on the reasoning of the church here. I believe this was unique to the French church at the time.


Tue Jan 16, 2007 1:03 pm
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Now actors are considered above everyone....how interesting..... :)


Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:27 am
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
According to Casanova's The Story Of My Life. His mother was an actress. This leads me to the conclusion that actresses and actors were shunned in 18th century society in general.

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Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:58 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Sadly most actresses these days are also whores, there is no difference. Although there are a good few who are talented and are good people. :)

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:17 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
I have also recently read about the Church refusing burial to all actors and actresses, which I had never before heard until now. I know that in the past certain actors and actresses who led particularly wild and scandalous lives and never bothered with the Church at all were sometimes refused a funeral Mass. I never knew this to include ALL performers, however. Although, it is totally true that, in those days, actresses were seen as being slightly above prostitutes. But then, prostitutes could be given a funeral mass. So I don't know. It is something to investigate.......

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:32 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
I guess it has to do with who you are performing for also. People acting in theaters etc in courts around Europe were maybe not looked upon in the same way as "poor" actresses. The same thing with prostitutes I guess.

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:10 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
I suppose the degrees do vary from performer, what type they were and what life they led.

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:56 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Hellou_Librorum wrote:
I suppose the degrees do vary from performer, what type they were and what life they led.


Yes, and how they ended it.

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:09 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
I also knew that for a long time the Church refused burial to actors because it was considered an immoral job. I don't know if there were exceptions or different degrees in this rule.

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:33 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Perhaps if you confessed before you died, then it could have helped. I don't know.

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:43 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Hellou_Librorum wrote:
Perhaps if you confessed before you died, then it could have helped. I don't know.


Yes, I would hope so!

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Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:45 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
In medieval time, disguised men were playing women roles in theatre so only male actors were in acting troupes. I am not sure why, I guess being an actress was considered to be shameful for a woman and didn’t mach with their role in the society back than. That slightly changed in 18th century, there were more actresses, but people thought the same about their profession.
The purpose of actors and other artist often was only to amuse rich people and in general they weren’t treated as today. In my opinion, wonderful classical music, operas, art works were something normal in their every day life, common, not like today when we have all sorts of rubbish. Even Mozart despite his great works was treated as a regular pianist, like a servant (from his letters we know how he was treated while working in one pontiff, priest’s house).

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Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:04 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Well, according to a biography i read on Edgar Allen Poe, his mother was an actress and she was looked down upon by everyone in the society because of it. i dont understand, if it is so profane, why go to watch it? People amaze me sometimes.
i guess its just the times...


Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:11 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Let's not forget that Antoinette also "acted" a bit. :wink: Not that she made her living of it. :lol:

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Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:52 pm
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Post Re: Actors in France in the 18th century
Which adds to the irony. I suppose it was a good thing to do in your leisure, but it wasn't a respectable way to earn your bread in society it wasn't productive enough I suppose, if you weren't manufacturing something, or selling something and you weren't a noble then what was your purpose? May that is what they thought. Perhaps it was too easy or threatened the nobles, just a thought.

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Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:16 pm
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