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Look Inside The American Stage and the Great Depression

The American Stage and the Great Depression
A Cultural History of the Grotesque


Part of Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama

  • Date Published: February 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521033626

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About the Authors
  • This book proposes a correlation between the divided 'mind' of America during the Depression and popular stage works of the era. Theatre works such as Jack Kirkland's comic-horrific adaptation of Tobacco Road, Olsen and Johnson's 'scream-lined revue', Hellzapoppin, and successful plays by Robert E. Sherwood, Clare Boothe Luce and S. N. Behrman are interpreted as theatrical reflections of Depression culture's sense of being trapped between a discredited past and a nightmarish future. The author analyses America of the 1930s as an era of the 'grotesque', in which the irreconcilable were forced into tense and dynamic coexistence, and by examining these works of theatre as products of particular historical circumstances, argues for a strong connection between cultural history and theatre history.

    • Provides an interdisciplinary approach to theatre
    • Focuses attention on popular stage works of the period
    • Applies the theory of the grotesque to American culture of the 1930s
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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521033626
    • length: 228 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction: loving the grotesque
    1. The grotesque and the Great Depression
    2. The political analogy
    or, 'tragicomedy' in an in-between age
    3. Misery burlesqued: the peculiar case of Tobacco Road
    4. Chaos and cruelty in the theatrical space: Horse Eats Hat, Hellzapoppin, and the pleasure of farce
    Appendix: cast and staff information for principal productions

  • Author

    Mark Fearnow, Pennsylvania State University

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