Entertainment in the Old West: Theater, Music, Circuses, by Jeremy Agnew

By Jeremy Agnew

Miners, loggers, railroad males, and others flooded into the yank West after the invention of gold in 1848, and entertainers trying to fill the call for for distraction from the employees' day-by-day toil quickly undefined. Actors, actresses and touring troupes crisscrossed the yank frontier, acting in tents, saloons, fancy theaters, and the outdoors. This exploration of the heyday of well known theater within the outdated West chronicles its emergence and development from 1850 to the early 20th century. here's the tale of the boys and girls who supplied myriad kinds of leisure within the outdated West, and taken pleasure, laughter and tears to generations of pioneers.

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Additional info for Entertainment in the Old West: Theater, Music, Circuses, Medicine Shows, Prizefighting and Other Popular Amusements

Example text

Author Beatrix Potter spent several years studying fungi and lichens. In 1890, when she sought to present her extensive findings to the Linnaean Society of London, her request was refused. The final insult was that her uncle, the well-known chemist Sir Henry Roscoe, was allowed to present her findings THREE. Women as Actresses 47 at the same meeting. She tried to continue her research at the British Museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens, but was similarly rebuffed. Finally, in frustration, she abandoned her hopes of working in science and instead turned to writing children’s stories.

The popularity of Shakespeare was possibly in part because he wrote for the masses and partly because audiences in the Old West may have identified with some of the plays’ values and tastes. Some of the audiences’ enthusiasm may also have been due to the flamboyant acting styles of many of the traveling actors and to the ribald material that some of the plays contain. Shakespearean plays were so popular in southwest New Mexico that miners named the town of Shakespeare after him. S. 3 As well as being presented in their original form, Shakespeare’s plays were favorite targets for burlesque.

This also has to be taken in the context of contemporary social values. Most white Americans at the time considered that the Civil War had settled the “Negro question” and were not concerned with stereotypes of black performers. Many Northerners felt that minstrel shows were an accurate depiction of the South, and Southerners accepted the image of the happy, singing field worker. Though minstrel acts had appeared early in the 1820s, the father of American minstrelsy is generally considered to be Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice, a white entertainer who first performed a blackface song and dance act in 1828.

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