Absence and Memory in Colonial American Theatre: Fiorelli’s by O. Johnson

By O. Johnson

History, they are saying, has a grimy tongue. on the subject of colonial theatre in the USA, what we all know approximately functionality has come from the detractors of theatre and never its manufacturers. but this doesn't account for the flourishing theatrical circuit demonstrated among 1760 and 1776. This examine explores the culture's social aid of the theatre.

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57 I am intrigued by this marking of the landscape by the theatre, particularly in the absence of the company. It was being remembered far beyond its occupancy and there is something in the persistence of that memory that should alert us to the strength of the position the theatre occupied in the cultural imagination. I speak of this position later as "desire," and suggest it can (perhaps should) be read as one form of performance's potency. I want to close with a final brief example from another riverside hamlet, Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Rappahonock.

Working Up from Postholes 39 A more generous description comes from Jonathan Clark, a deputy clerk of the court in Fredericksburg, who left an unpublished diary that occasionally records scanty evidence of his playgoing. He had neither Jefferson's education nor Washington's ambition, spent his summers rather lazily, playing cards and fishing until called to court as a deputy clerk. " What he does evidence is that small as Fredericksburg was, it was nonetheless capable of supporting the American Company for three months in the summer of 1771.

When the Hallam Company played in Williamsburg on their inaugural tour of 1752-1753, they occupied and refitted the old Murray-Kean playhouse, a space so far at the Eastern edge of town that Charles Durang succinctly described as "[iJt stood in the woods," and added that "the actors were wont to cater for their tables by shooting game" from the doors and windows of the playhouse. 17 In 1759 in Philadelphia, Douglass was obliged to build his first playhouse outside the city limits and the city's jurisdiction.

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