Church and Stage

The Theatre as Target of Religious Condemnation in Nineteenth Century America


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SKU: 9780786430802 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Throughout nineteenth century America, religious officials often condemned the theatre as an inversion of the house of God, similar to the church in architectural structure and organization but wholly different in purpose and values. This book explores the many ways in which religious institutions supported by capitalism profoundly affected the early development of American theatre. The author analyzes the church’s critical view toward common theatre practices, including the use of female and child performers, and the lower class alliance with the stage. Three appendices provide period correspondence, including an excerpt from Mark Twain’s February 1871 “Memoranda,” in which Twain criticizes an Episcopalian reverend for denying church burial to a popular stage comedian.

About the Author(s)

Claudia Durst Johnson lives in Berkeley, California. She was a professor of English and department head at the University of Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

Claudia Durst Johnson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info: 24 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3080-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0894-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction—Church and Stage: The Two Temples      1

1. The English and Early American Beginnings      9

2. The Power and Values of the Church      28

3. Plays, Playgoers, and Actors      38

4. The Impact of Clerical Attacks on Actors and the Profession      49

5. The Church and the Actress      66

6. Trading Religious Approval for Work      77

7. Wearing the Pants, Making the Choices, Writing the Plays      92

8. Children in Industry: Children on Stage      103

9. Prostitutes and the Bar      120

10. Violence in the Audience, Irreverence on the Stage      135

11. The Winding Down of an Old War      159

Appendix 1: Cornelius Logan’s Defense of the Stage      175

Appendix 2: Cincinnati Daily Enquirer on the Third Tier      182

Appendix 3: Mark Twain on the Reverend Sabine      185

Chapter Notes      187

Bibliography      199

Index      213

Book Reviews & Awards

“first-rate research…a useful resource…highly recommended”—Choice.