Theater and P

Theater and P - see exotic and sensational exhibits...

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Theater and P. T. Barnum.  The theater was as popular in antebellum America as movies are today. Best-selling  novels were adapted for the stage;  Uncle Tom's Cabin  was produced in New York in  1853, for example (interestingly, African Americans had to enter the theater through a  special entrance and were segregated from the rest of the audience). Shakespeare's  plays were a perennial favorite, as were melodramas and comedies. Shows that  touched on the social issues of the day were important. Temperance plays, which  showed how alcohol could destroy a family, were a popular genre, and about fifty plays  about Native Americans were staged between 1825 and 1860.  Early in his career as a showman, Phineas T. Barnum realized that people would pay to 
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Unformatted text preview: see exotic and sensational exhibits purported to have an educational value. In 1835, he introduced the public to an aged black woman, Joice Heth, who he claimed had been George Washington's nurse. Barnum followed this hoax with the Feejee mermaid, created by sewing together a fish and the upper body of a monkey. The mermaid and other odd displays, along with appearances by the famous twenty-five-inch-tall dwarf, General Tom Thumb, were featured attractions at Barnum's American Museum in New York City (1842). Barnum was also a legitimate theatrical promoter; he brought the noted Swedish singer Jenny Lind to the United States for a concert tour in 1850....
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