Evolution Of American Theatre

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From Colonial Williamsburg Theatre to Broadway, theatre is ever-changing. The differences in each era of theatre are vast; the costumes, staging, acting techniques, and audiences all vary drastically from each other. The major eras and genres of American theatre include the colonial era, the Post-Revolution era, the Civil War era, Broadway, and Post-Modern—all with unique and varying aspects to them. Although the first permanent English settlement occurred at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, according to Richard Hornby’s article The Crisis in the American History, the entire 17th century passed with no mention of theatrical productions or performances in the Colonies (Hornby). This inaction to develop theatre was due partly to the sparse population …show more content…

It was a rich, intricate era of theatrical developments and changes. In The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, Wilmeth states that American theatre “became one of the largest industries in the country, encompassing not only dramatic performances and musical theatre… but also minstrelsy, vaudeville, amusement parks, circuses, and the new media of film and radio” (Wilmeth 107). This proves that American theatre was just as influential and popular as the theatre groups of Europe. The staging of Civil War theatre was the time of the proscenium, which we still use to this day. The theatre was for audiences of many kinds, aristocratic and the common-man; many performances were done on the streets of large cities like Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. The 19th century’s huge theatrical evolution included many drastic changes, most notably, the inclusion of black theatre troupes to form. The emergence of this is a huge influence in today’s theatre. Hanners mentions the importance of the black theatre troupe by saying, “The ability of black troupes to establish a foothold in American show business, the period of the minstrel show remains one of America’s great artistic and social tragedies” (Hanners 33). The emergence of black troupes made way for incredible black actors and performers, most notably Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the black tap-artist who starred alongside …show more content…

Major elements of the minstrel groups of the late 19th century, such as tap dancing, large group numbers, singing, and singing while dancing, led to the development of the grandiose world of Broadway acting. Brooks McNamara mentions in his article “A Theatre Historian’s Perspective” that Broadway served the general public as a source of entertainment only. He

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