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By John H. Houchin

Arguing that theatrical censorship coincides with major demanding situations to spiritual, political and cultural traditions, John Houchin explores its influence on twentieth-century American theatre. in addition to the well known instance of the home Un-American actions Committee within the Fifties, different nearly both influential occasions affected the process the yank level throughout the century. After a precis of censorship in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century the USA, Houchin analyzes key political and theatrical occasions among 1900 and 2000.

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They could grant or withhold discretionary licenses at will, and those who violated the terms of their license were liable to criminal prosecution. 85  C EN S O R S H I P O F T H E A M ER I CA N T H E AT R E Thus, censorship of the American theatre began with fiats designed to control audiences not actors, and by 1890 American theatre auditoriums had been completely transformed. Audiences were licensed to sit quietly and witness the performance. Any response other than polite applause might be regarded as dangerous and result in eviction.

The Opera House thus signified, in a material sense, aristocratic exclusiveness and superiority. This cleavage was further exacerbated by a furious theatrical rivalry that had developed. Edwin Forrest, the first native-born “star” of the American stage, whose powerfully robust style greatly appealed to working-class audiences, particularly the B’hoy, was at his apogee. William Charles Macready, the famous English actor who was noted for his carefully fashioned Shakespearean portrayals, was the favorite of New York’s elite, and his chief rival.

Professional theatre in the new nation With the end of the war came freedom – and confusion. The population was physically and emotionally exhausted. The economy was on the brink of collapse and social chaos reigned. The former colonies (now states) were not yet a nation. Although the patriots had fought to liberate themselves from the “yoke of British Tyranny,” it was far from clear how this newfound freedom would manifest itself. In the minds of many, luxury and pleasure were equated with corruption and social decay, and had to be combated if the Republic was to fulfill its destiny.

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