The first multi-volume history of the American theater to have been published, The Cambridge History of American Theatre is an authoritative and wide-ranging history of American theater in all its dimensions. It recognizes changing styles of presentation and performance, and addresses the economic context that conditions the drama presented. Volume One brings together the work of ten major authorities on American theater and drama. Like each of the three volumes, Volume One includes an extensive overview and timeline followed by chapters on specific aspects of American theater up to c. 1870.
Introduction Christopher Bigsby and Don B. Wilmeth; Timeline: beginnings to 1870 compiled by Don B. Wilmeth and Jonathan Curley; 1. American theatre in context from the beginning to 1870 Bruce McConachie; 2. Structure and management in the American theatre from the beginning to 1870 Douglas McDermott; 3. The plays and playwrights: plays and playwrights to 1800 Peter A. Davis; Plays and playwrights: 1800–1865 Gary A. Richardson; 4. The actors: European actors and the star system in the American theatre, 1752–1870 Simon Williams; The emergence of the American actor Joseph Roach; 5. Scenography, stagecraft, and architecture in the American theatre, beginnings to 1870 Mary C. Henderson; 6. Paratheatricals and popular stage entertainment Peter G. Buckley.
"Editors Wilmeth (Brown Univ.) and Bigsby (Univ. of East Anglia, UK) and other top scholars weave a tapestry of performance art and cultural history against a background of changing social and political history in well-written chapters....Wilmeth and Bigsby's history is the finest written about the American theater in many years....A must for all college and university libraries." Choice
"The book's form and content make it both accessible and challenging to scholars from the advanced undergraduate through the postgraduate levels. It sets a new standard for comprehensive histories of American theater." Kim Marra, The Journal of American History
"What is striking about this history is the new and old historiography that characterizes it. The Cambridge History of American Theatre, Vol.I will find a ready audience at all levels of theatre research." Theatre Journal