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Long Live Uncle Tom! Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the Twentieth Century

  • John W. Frick
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Abstract

While critics of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on stage at the opening of the twentieth century were already predicting the imminent demise of the phenomenon—a prediction that would grow more common and strident as the century progressed—statistics showed that this claim was anything but true. One historian in 1902 estimated that in that year alone, over one and one-half million people (one in every 35 US citizens) would see one or more productions of the play; while 10 years later, Stowe’s son Charles claimed that there had been 250,000 separate productions.1 Although the 1890s undeniably marked the high-water mark for theatrical Toms, it is also undeniable that as the new century began, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was both ubiquitous and clearly in the public consciousness.

Keywords

Winter Tour Summer Tour Opera House Stage Floor River Scene 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas F. Gossett, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and American Culture (Southern Methodist University Press, 1985), p. 371.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Brady, Showman (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1937), p. 48Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    John W. Frick, New York’s First Theatrical Center: The Rialto at Union Square (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Research Press, 1985), pp. 30–32.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    A. Nicholas Vardac, Stage to Screen: Theatrical Method from Garrick to Griffith (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949), p. XXV. While it is certainly true that many of the earliest films utilized painted drops and theatrical box sets, movies as early as 1903 were moving steadily toward greater realism.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Daniel J. Watermeier, “Actors and Acting,” The Cambridge History of the American Theatre, 1870–1945, eds. Don B. Wilmeth and Christopher Bigsby. Vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999): p. 468; Garff B. Wilson, A History of American Acting (Bloomington, MA: Indiana University Press, 1966), pp. 240–42.Google Scholar
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    Harry Birdoff, The World’s Greatest Hit: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (New York: S. F. Vanni, 1947), p. 360.Google Scholar
  7. 41.
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  11. 65.
    For an overview of social changes that took place in the early twentieth century, see John Frick, “A Changing Theatre: New York and Beyond, 1870–1945,” The Cambridge History of American Theatre, ed. Don B. Wilmeth and Christopher Bigsby, Vol. 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1999): pp. 196–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Tom Mikotowicz, “George (Francis) Abbott,” in eds. John W. Frick and Stephen M. Vallillo, Theatrical Directors (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994): pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
  14. 93.
    Linda Williams, Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 187.Google Scholar
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    P. William Hutchinson, “Trinity Square Company,” Theatre Journal 32 (May 1980): 262–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© John W. Frick 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Frick

There are no affiliations available

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