What does "passion-tearing" mean in the following context?
My parents were at the summer theater singing a first matinee performance of "You Can't Take It With You". In summer stock productions they were two very irritable, passion-tearing, perspiring players, and my younger brothers and I rarely went to see them. My mother was especially poor in summer stock. Watching her, even on a cool evening, Kenneth used to cringe in his seat till he was almost on the floor.
It doesn't sound like a good thing, but I cannot figure out what it actually means.
The story is written somewhere around 1947 and full context is available here.