American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887

American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887

American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887

American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887

Excerpt

A commonplace of theatrical wisdom has been that theatre is a communal art, an experience arising out of the coordinated efforts of the members of a group. Withal, theatre historians have conventionally organized their field of study into biographical studies of performers, playwrights, and other artists, or they have studied the structure of playhouses and the organization of theatrical business ventures. Histories of theatre buildings and of the theatre communities large and small, as well as the history of the crafts of acting and directing, have been common topics. In our century, a great deal of scholarship has been accomplished that both tangentially and directly acknowledges and explores the communal aspects of the making of theatre. The theatrical company, especially the resident company, has become a topic of interest and investigation. Concern for the relationship between American theatre and American society, as well as for the sociology of theatre, has focused attention on the theatrical company as a phenomenon worthy of close study.

American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887, is the first of a series of three books providing salient facts about resident acting companies in the American colonies and the United States. This book covers the period from 1749, the date of the organization of the first significant English-speaking company in the American colonies, to 1887, the date of the formation of the last company organized and operated in the mode imported to the colonies from England in the eighteenth century. The second book will treat organizations formed in the United States from 1888 to 1930, a period in which the stock-company mode of organization was revived and modified to achieve great currency. A third work will treat groups formed from 1931 to 1986, including especially the histories of nonprofit resident performing groups, other groups devoted to experimentation and political action, and professional art theatres and repertory companies.

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