ISBN-10:
0807854506
ISBN-13:
9780807854501
Pub. Date:
05/12/2003
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
White People Do Not Know How to Behave at Entertainments Designed for Ladies and Gentlemen of Colour: William Brown's African and American Theater / Edition 1

White People Do Not Know How to Behave at Entertainments Designed for Ladies and Gentlemen of Colour: William Brown's African and American Theater / Edition 1

by Marvin McAllister
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Overview

In August 1821, William Brown, a free man of color and a retired ship's steward, opened a pleasure garden on Manhattan's West Side. It catered to black New Yorkers, who were barred admittance to whites-only venues offering drama, music, and refreshment. Over the following two years, Brown expanded his enterprises, founding a series of theaters that featured African Americans playing a range of roles unprecedented on the American stage and that drew increasingly integrated audiences.

Marvin McAllister explores Brown's pioneering career and reveals how each of Brown's ventures—the African Grove, the Minor Theatre, the American Theatre, and the African Company—explicitly cultivated an intercultural, multiracial environment. He also investigates the negative white reactions, verbal and physical, that led to Brown's managerial retirement in 1823.

Brown left his mark on American theater by shaping the careers of his performers and creating new genres of performance. Beyond that legacy, says McAllister, this nearly forgotten theatrical innovator offered a blueprint for a truly inclusive national theater.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807854501
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/12/2003
Edition description: 1
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Marvin McAllister is theatre arts lecturer at Howard University and Literary Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A book that offers the most comprehensive and detailed history to date of William Brown's attempts to establish a commercial theater for African American actors in the early nineteenth century.—American Literature



Every now and then, scholars set out to do more than they should—and succeed. . . . [An] important institutional moment in the history of American performance.—Journal of American History



McAllister has presented a provocative interpretation of Brown's theater management career. He has taken what seems to be fragmentary historical evidence and has woven it together within an interpretive framework of cultural, literary, performance, and at times, feminist theory. . . . [He] has opened the door for others with an interest in the shaping of American cultural and racial identity.—Journal of African American History



Relying upon the scholarship of numerous theater historians and critics, McAllister paints a three-dimensional portrait of William Brown as both a man ahead of his time and a man trapped in a warped time machine where preoccupation with unruly white spectators, conniving white business competitors, and a corrupt legal system significantly prevent his theater from taking root and flourishing.—Sandra G. Shannon, Howard University



New and recommended.—Black Issues Book Review



A surprisingly thoughtful book. It is a comprehensive study that takes us to the epicenter of African-American theatre.—American Theatre



McAllister's book is the first to give Brown and the African Grove Company the in-depth, critical investigation that this much noted period in African American theater history has so sorely needed for so long. While others have cited Brown as a pioneer, McAllister provides him and his theatrical endeavors with more body and substance in an insightful work that is thoroughly researched and richly detailed. McAllister provocatively and effectively argues that Brown's African Company was not only a groundbreaking moment in black theater but an early adventure in diversity that embraced this country's multiethnic potential and as such was a truly American theater. Bold and engaging, this important book fills a void in American theater history.—Harry Elam, Stanford University

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