Lines of Business
- From the 18th century until the rise of the combination system, actors were hired according to certain categories of roles that they would play throughout the repertory of plays presented by that company. Apart from the leading man and leading lady roles, the usual lines of business in any late 19th-century touring company, presenting mostly melodramas interspersed by comedies and Shakespeare* plays, were: juvenile, ingénue, heavy man (or villain), eccentric (often ethnic types), light comedian, character actor, low comedian, old man, walking gentleman, and utility. There were, of course, female counterparts to many of them, as well as endless variations like the Yankee, the soubrette, and the respectable utility.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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