Oscar Hammerstein Ii and early American Theatre Essay

Submitted By thani0825
Words: 1738
Pages: 7

18C – Age of Enlightenment

19 C – Built on the innovations of the 18C
Paved the way for “modern theatre.”
Mercantile powers were England and France
Africa and slave trade
Trade, colonial trade
Inventions leading to the Industrial Revolution in 19 C
The flying shuttle, the spinning Jenny, and the cotton gin revolutionized the textile industry.
Manufacturing, transportation, steam engines, new modes of communication drove profits and those profits made it down to the middle class.
Soon the working and middle classes had money and they were demanding theatre to take them away from the cares and drudgery of daily life.
More $ meant more people having it and that meant bigger theatres and more theatres.

Early American Theatre – What we received from what part of the world:
England: verse, tragedy, comedy, ballad opera, operettas, literature, & exploration
Italy: opera, Commedia dell’ Arte, proscenium arch, painting, architecture, & exploration
France: farce, ballet, & exploration
AND IMMIGRANTS from Ireland, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Germany, Greece, Scandinavia, West Indies, Africa
We also had woman actors

Puritans- MA Bay Colony 1620
Theatre=immoral work=moral plays=immoral theatre is idleness=devil’s plaything
Actors=pretend to be someone else lying=agents of the devil
Bible=honest
Actors=prostitutes, gamblers

Calvinist strain of Protestantism
Profit=smiled on by God
If business made $$$ that was good
1716 first theatre built in Williamsburg, VA
Tough on non-profit companies
OK for profit companies – which is what we have TODAY

1866 THE BLACK CROOK
475 consecutive performances
3200 seat Niblos Garden on Broadway
1st book musical with French ballet troupe in the melodrama
$$$$$ over 1M
Sometimes called the “first American type musical”

What did America give to Western Theatre? THE AMERICAN MUSICAL and Crook was the 1st, although rudimentary.
Americans loved vaudeville, Burlesque, minstrel shows, jugglers, animal acts, ballad operas, melodramas, and other light fare PT Barnum 19C.
Light opera, operettas, circus, wild west shows, variety, and medicine shows
Theatre as profit – Joseph Jefferson born in Philly, born of stage parents
Joseph Jefferson Sr. moved to IL Springfield politicians charged huge $$ for theatre license young Abe Lincoln represented them pro bono and won license reduction
Laura Keene acting co.: In NYC Joseph Jefferson Jr. got Ms. Keene to do Our American Cousin so he could star as Asa Trenchard

OUR AMERICAN COUSIN by Tom Taylor
Follows Asa Trenchard
Lord Dundreary (English actor E.A. Southern)
Performed by: Laura Keene’s company
April 14, 1865 Ford’s Theatre , Washington DC capacity 1700 with more chairs on main floor could swell to 2300/2400
John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Rathbone, Miss Clara Harris in President’s box
Gen. Grant, original invitee but declined
State Box 11 feet up by the dress circle, “sic semper tyrannis” said in box
“Revenge for the South” said on stage by Booth
Single shot derringer killed Abe & Bowie knife slashed the Major
April 26 Booth shot in VA. 4 others hanged in Washington on July 7
Lincoln’s body finally laid to rest in Springfield IL

First modern theatre in NYC: Booth Theatre 1869 NYC built by Edwin Booth at 23rd and 6th avenue with a huge chandelier (father - Junius Brutus Booth)
Modern orchestra area, balconies, and seats were individual armchairs
Stage was not raked but seats were and hydraulic rams to raise and lower scenery and stage lights that could be completely extinguished during the performance, a first in the United States
1816 Philly – Chestnut Street Theatre – completely gas lit

American Musical Theatre music – ragtime, jazz, big band, B’Way, pop, rock & roll, blues, country, gospel
Table is set because of the: American Spirit - Manifest Destiny, Melting Pot, and Production…