Synopses & Reviews
Frontier dramas were among the most popular and successful of early-twentieth-century Broadway type plays. The long runs of dramas such as Augustus Thomas's Arizona (1900), Owen Wister and Kirke La Shelle's The Virginian (1904), Edwin Milton Royle's The Squaw Man (1905), David Belasco's The Girl of the Golden West (1905), William Vaughn Moody's The Great Divide (1906), and Rachel Crothers's The Three of Us (1906) not only indicate the popularity of these plays but also tell us that these plays offered views about the frontier that original audiences could and did embrace. By focusing on how these and other plays represent the intersection of period ideas about the nature of the frontier process on the one hand, with prevailing dramatic conventions and theatre production practices, on the other, Wattenberg sets the frontier perspective offered in these theatrical works within the larger context of late nineteenth and early twentieth century American culture. Despite differences in how these plays translate the frontier experience into stage action, as a group they delineate the parameters of a coalescing frontier discourse that shaped and has continued to shape American art and thought.
“Wattenbergs work is intelligent, well-informed, and wide-ranging, and his analyses of the plays are excellent. It delves in detail into material that has been too often overlooked and underappreciated. There is really nothing like this.”—Roger Hall, Professor of Theatre, James Madison University
About the Author
Richard Wattenberg is a Professor of Theatre Arts at Portland State University, where he primarily teaches theater history and dramatic literature. His research interests are in American theater, and for some years he has focused on plays dealing with the American frontier experience. Hi articles have appeared in a number of journals including Journal of American Drama and Theatre, American Drama, Modern Drama, Essays in Theatre, and Western American Literature. Over the past dozen years, he has also worked as a freelance theatre reviewer, publishing 35-40 reviews a year in Portland, Oregons daily newspaper, THE OREGONIAN.
Table of Contents
PART I: THE AXES OF ANALYSIS: FRONTIER WESTERN DISCOURSE AND THEATRE PRACTICE * The Frontier Western Discourse at the Turn of the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century * The Turn-of-the-Century American Theatre Context * PART II: THE PLAYS * Discipline and Spontaneity: Clyde Fitchs The Cowboy and the Lady and Augustus Thomass Arizona * Drama from Novels: John Ermine of the Yellowstone and The Virginian * Variations on the Frontier Myth: Edward Milton Royles The Squaw Man and David Belascos The Girl of the Golden West * From Melodrama to Realism: William Vaughn Moodys The Great Divide and Rachel Crotherss The Three of Us