Absence and Memory in Colonial American Theatre

Fiorelli's Plaster
Johnson, Odai
Wilmeth, Don B.
Date published: 
June 2006

History, they say, sometimes has a filthy tongue. In the case of colonial theatre in America, much of what we know about performance has come from the detractors of theatre and not its producers: anti-theatrical legislation, sermons, petitions, and prohibitions against the theatre, all of which have resulted in a history told as a contest of Puritan and Player. Yet such a narrative hardly accounts for the flourishing theatrical circuit established between 1760 and 1776 (nineteen theatres in seven colonies and the Anglophone Caribbean). This study explores the culture's social support of the theatre in the material evidence it left behind as well as the immaterial evidence: the culture's memory of theatre, and its enormous desire for it.