Charlotte Cushman (1816-1876) was the 19th century's most famous cross-dressing and woman-loving actress. Her performance of Shakespeare's star-crossed lover was legendary, and she wowed male and female audiences alike at local theaters like McVicker's in Chicago during her American tours. Join cultural historian Lisa Merrill for a behind-the-scenes look at Cushman's career and how spectators and critics talked and wrote about sexuality on stage.
Jill Austin, Chicago History Museum curator, will begin the program with a brief introduction to LGBT-related life and themes in mid-19th-century Chicago. A local theater colleague will provide the conclusion to bring the story back to Chicago and the present.