Pauline • Link
from L&M Companion entry for
Betterton, Thomas and Mary
[Thomas's] wife Mary (b. Saunderson, ?1637-1712, m. 1662) was also a member of the Duke
Pauline • Link
from JWB's link above:
An exception to these petty women was Mary Saunderson, one of the most famous actresses of the time. Following Mrs. Coleman's dismal production of The Siege of Rhodes, Saunderson took over the role of Ianthe, and reportedly performed it so well that she was referred to as Ianthe for much of her life. Her unblemished reputation is often attributed to her early marriage to Thomas Betterton, himself a famous actor of the period. She is said to have loved and admired her husband inordinately, and the two even shared a professional partnership for the remainder of their lives.
Saunderson was the first woman to play a female role in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Macbeth, and Hamlet. While she made a name for herself with Shakespeare's tragedies, she proved herself as an actress by showing she could perform, with equal brilliancy, in Aphra Behn's comedies, and sing her way through D'Avenant's operatic versions of Shakespeare. When D'Avenant died, Thomas Betterton took over his place in the theater, and he and Mary moved into it, working and living under the same roof. Once London's two theaters united, Mary was forced into minor roles by a slew of younger, fresher actresses, and then disappeared from the stage for a while. She returned in 1690 and performed leading roles for three years, until her final appearance on stage in Dryden's last play, Love Triumphant. Mary's career outlasted that of the actresses with whom she had begun it, and even some of the generations after her.
Cheryl • Link
Just a word about the source http://www.gwu.edu/%7Eklarsen/theatre.html. It seems to be a page put together by a class; thus, it does not use the most recent, comprehensive, or reliable sources for its information. Some of its sections accept anecdote as fact, and it uses terms like "director" (neither the term nor the position existed, in a theatrical sense, in the 17c).
Mrs. Betterton was so great a Mistress of Nature, that even Mrs. Barry, who acted the Lady Macbeth after her, could not in that part, with all her superior Strength and Melody of Voice, throw out those quick and careless Strokes of Terror, from the Disorder of a guilty Mind, which the other gave us with a Facility in her Manner, that render'd them at once tremendous and delightful. Time could not impair her Judgment, tho' he had brought her Person to decay; for she was to the last, the Admiration of all true Judges of Nature, and Lovers of Shakespeare, in whose Plays she chiefly excell'd, and without a Rival. When she quitted the Theatre, several good Actresses were the better for her Instruction. She was a Woman of an unblemish'd and sober Life; and had the Honour to teach Queen Anne, when Princess, the part of Semandra in Mithridates, which she acted at Court in King Charles's Time. After the Death of Mr. Betterton, her Husband, that Princess, when Queen, ordered her a pension for Life, but she liv'd not to receive more than the first half Year of it.
---The History of the Stage. C. Cibber, 1742
Mary Saunderson, who married Thomas Betterton, December, 1662, one of Sir William Davenant's company, who acted Ianthe in the "Siege of Rhodes," at Lincoln's Inn Fields. She retired from the stage about 1675, died April, 1712, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey on the 13th.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.