Theater Exam 2 Review
American Melodrama: The Really Big Show
~Melodrama= Virtuous heroes and evil villains; appeal to sentiment and group
identity, emphasizes spectacle, local colors and characters and plots with episodes.
~Two types- 1. Heroic melodrama= 1830s-contained violence and action, mostly
male working class audiences, noble hero vs. corrupt society.
Moral reform melodrama= 1840s- Celebrated domesticity (slavery, alcohol,
prostitution, and consequences of vices), female audiences now welcome and
encouraged through the development of the Saturday matinee.
Example= Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe) – Elza crossing ice was a
very famous spectacle.
~Melodrama had technology= gas lighting (1820s), more upstage light, fire and
lightning effects, electricity (1880s), moving panoramas, ect…
~Contemporary legacy or examples of melodramas= daytime soap operas, politics,
Theatrical Labor: Some types of designers
~Tasks of designers- familiarization with text’s sociohistorical environment,
exploring style possibilities, researching images and sound, attending production
meetings, considering practical concerns like budget.
~Very racist, very popular, and “American”, projected identities into blacks that had
consequences for U.S.’s social and economic world.
~T.D. Rice- The most famous minstrel performer who also originated the form.
~played “Daddy Jim Crow”- a character T.D. and others said was accurate about
plantation slaves, actually a huge exaggeration of a dance developed to get around
a law against dancing.
~Minstrel shows- had music, dancing, and comedy, first all white casts that
included some performers in Black face, depicted slave life as idyllic, and African
Americans as buffoonish.
~Some of it was performed by African Americans in blackface!- reasons- it allowed
them stage access, white people thought made it authentic
~Minstrelsy caricatures=1. “Tom”- faithful and submissive servant, smiling, wide-
eyed, docile, non-threatening, needing approval
2. “Picaninny”- children, bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips, and wide mouths
Sambo- Lazy, frightened, inarticulate, satisfied with position as slave
Coon- abb. Raccoon- lazy, frightened, inarticulate, unsatisfied “bad sambo”
The mammy figure- laughing loyal servant, “evidence” that black women were
happy as slaves, loved white family, disdained by own family, not a sexy character,
invention of white southerners
Lesbian, Gay, & Queer Theater Performance