American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

Synopsis

"This first-rate study of American theater companies presents a sociology of the theater by explaining the relationships between American theatre and American society. Its succinctly factual and sensibly analytical presentation of information make it an indispensable guide for anyone interested in studying the American theater." ARBA

Excerpt

American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930 is the second of a series of three books providing salient facts about resident acting companies in the United States. Until about 1870, stock companies produced most of the plays seen in theatres of the United States. the stock company of the period covered in Book I, American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887, was an autonomous organization located permanently in a city large enough to support it (sometimes several of its kind) for a winter season lasting as long as forty weeks. the manager of the company leased or owned the theatre and hired at least a small corps of actors and actresses for season-long engagements. the stock-company manager selected a repertory of plays to suit local tastes and to capitalize on the strength of his company of players. Though brief runs of new plays were fairly common, stock companies typically produced a different full-length play and a short afterpiece each night. Permanent stock companies such as the Park Theatre Company in New York and the Boston Museum Company occupied the first rank in the theatrical realm. They produced the newest plays seen in the United States for the highest class of theatrical patrons. Traveling stock companies were common, as were second- class permanent companies in the largest cities. Permanent companies of the second class offered cut-rate prices to a lower-class clientele. They could offer discounts, or "popular prices," because managers picked up performers who would work for wages below the professional average or rented older theatres at reduced rates. the second-class companies were often short-lived. By 1870, the economic advantages of the single-play company had contributed to the dissolution of all but a few of the permanent stock companies of all classes. Moreover, the few first-class companies remaining intact adhered less frequently to the repertory pattern of playing and tried more often to produce long-run hits. American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887 contains eighty-one biographies of these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American stock companies.

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