This is the first book to focus on the economic and social forces that shaped American theater throughout its two hundred and fifty year history. The collection of essays, written by leading theater historians and critics of American theater, represent a variety of methodologies and approaches. Arranged chronologically, the volume explores such topics as anti-theatrical legislation in Colonial America; the theater's response to slavery, prostitution, alcoholism, and women's rights; the significance of Black American musical comedy; women managers in nineteenth-century American theater; economic welfare in the Federal Theater Project; theater nostalgia during the Reagan era; and contemporary issues of multiculturalism in today's theater. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of American theater and social and cultural history.
Argues for the recognition of American theatre history as long, rich, diverse and critically compelling.Embracing all epochs of theatre history, from pre-colonial Native American performance rituals and the endeavours of early colonisers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to the end of the twentieth century, Theresa Saxon situates American theatre as a lively, dynamic and diverse arena. She considers the implications of political manoeuvrings, economics - state-funding and commercial enterprises - race and gender, as well as material factors such as technology, riot and fire, as major forces in determining the structure of America's playhouses and productions. She goes on to investigate critical understandings of the term 'theatre,' and assesses ways in which the various values of commerce, entertainment, education and dramatic production have informed the definition of theatre throughout America's history.
Created by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward and sung by generations of black performers, Porgy and Bess has been both embraced and reviled since its debut in 1935. In this comprehensive account, Ellen Noonan examines the opera's long history of invention and reinvention as a barometer of twentieth-century American expectations about race, culture, and the struggle for equality. In its surprising endurance lies a myriad of local, national, and international stories. For black performers and commentators, Porgy and Bess was a nexus for debates about cultural representation and racial uplift. White producers, critics, and even audiences spun revealing racial narratives around the show, initially in an attempt to demonstrate its authenticity and later to keep it from becoming discredited or irrelevant. Expertly weaving together the wide-ranging debates over the original novel, Porgy, and its adaptations on stage and film with a history of its intimate ties to Charleston, The Strange Career of "Porgy and Bess" uncovers the complexities behind one of our nation's most long-lived cultural touchstones.
For nearly eighteen centuries, two fundamental spatial plans dominated Christian architecture: the basilica and the central plan. In the 1880s, however, profound socio-economic and technological changes in the United States contributed to the rejection of these traditions and the development of a radically new worship building, the auditorium church. When Church Became Theatre focuses on this radical shift in evangelical Protestant architecture and links it to changes in worship style and religious mission. The auditorium style, featuring a prominent stage from which rows of pews radiated up a sloping floor, was derived directly from the theatre, an unusual source for religious architecture ...