The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theater

The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theater

The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theater

The Golden Age of the New Orleans Theater

Excerpt

In the present work no attempt is made to deal with the remote origins of the drama in New Orleans, save in such brief references as the reader will find in the introductory chapters. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that this drama, in the form of French plays performed in the French language by amateurs or semiprofessionals, has been traced back to beginnings near the middle of the eighteenth century. The author is concerned only with those theatrical enterprises in which the English language was used exclusively. The French theaters, the existence of which antedated the transfer of Louisiana from the French to the American government, lie outside of the domain which he has presumed to occupy. The plan of the present work also necessitates the exclusion of all but the merest mention of the German theaters, several of which rose, flourished, and vanished away in the New Orleans of the nineteenth century. The omission of these two elements leaves the story partially incomplete, but to include them would have expanded the present volume to utterly unmanageable proportions.

The printed materials on which this study is based are indicated mainly in the text itself, but also in a bibliographical note at the end of the volume. The author, moreover, has availed himself of much information collected from veterans of the New Orleans stage with whom he became acquainted as a young man. Some of these persons were distinguished in their profession at the time of the Civil War, and even before. Through contacts with the preceding generation they possessed facts and traditions going back almost to the inception of the English -- language drama in New Orleans -- facts and traditions which have not found their way into print until now. Naturally, the fashion in which these data were acquired -- in conversation and casual reminiscencerenders impossible any detailed acknowledgment of their sources. Further, the author, as a working journalist, enjoyed an intimate association with the New Orleans theaters in the latter years of the last century -- that period of splendid decline which culminated eventually in collapse -- and no inconsiderable portion of his narrative depends . . .

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