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“Is Everybody Happy?”

This week marks the anniverary of “Is Everybody Happy?” Day. This day celebrates the 1891 birthday of Ted Lewis, a vaudeville bandleader who was famous for asking his audiences the question, “Is everybody happy?” Take time out this week to make someone happy. ~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

 “Our lives improve only when we take chances.”

~ Walter Anderson

For more information on Vaudville, read below:

American Vaudeville, more so than any other mass entertainment, grew out of the culture of incorporation that defined American life after the Civil War. The development of vaudeville marked the beginning of popular entertainment as big business, dependent on the organizational efforts of a growing number of white-collar workers and the increased leisure time, spending power, and changing tastes of an urban middle class audience. Business savvy showmen utilized improved transportation and communication technologies, creating and controlling vast networks of theatre circuits standardizing, professionalizing, and institutionalizing American popular entertainment.

Lavishly decorated, red carpeted, gaudily decked out theaters were just as much a part of the Vaudeville acts as the acts themselves and played to the posh societies’ need of being bedazzled. France had the Moulin Rouge. America had Vaudeville. After Pastor Tony caught on to its popularity with both genders, he created themes on a basis less sexual in nature.

 

 

From PBS:

There was usually a dozen or more acts in every vaudeville performance. Starting and ending with the weakest, the shows went on for hours. The performances ranged from the truly talented to the simply quirky. There were musicians, such as the piano player Eubie Blake, and the child star, Baby Rose Marie. There were great acts of physical talent; everything from contortionists, to tumblers to dancers such as the Nicholas Brothers. Actors performed plays, magicians put on shows, jugglers juggled, but the real focus of vaudeville was comedy. Great comic acts such as Witt and Berg and Burns and Allen brought in the biggest crowds.

Vaudeville’s attraction was more than simply a series of entertaining sketches. It was symbolic of the cultural diversity of early twentieth century America. Vaudeville was a fusion of centuries-old cultural traditions, including the English Music Hall, minstrel shows of antebellum America, and Yiddish theater. Though certainly not free from the prejudice of the times, vaudeville was the earliest entertainment form to cross racial and class boundaries. For many, vaudeville was the first exposure to the cultures of people living right down the street.

Some of the most famous vaudeville performers began at an early age. Like the Yiddish theater and the circus, vaudeville was a family affair — singing sisters, dancing brothers, and flying families. For many of these families, the travelling lifestyle was simply a continuation of the adventures that brought them to America. Their acts were a form of assimilation, in which they could become active parts of popular culture through representations of their heritage. Many made acts from the confusions of being a foreigner, while others displayed skills they had learned back in the old country.”

Above, Ted Lewis and his band

Above, June Havoc, a Vaudeville star recently deceased.

Above, Buster Keaton, from the Buster Keaton Family show,…better known for his roles in silent film, shown below.

And the ever famous Charlie Chapman below:

“Everything I know I learned in vaudeville.”
~James Cagney                                                                     

Controversial Sexual Theater

Controversial theater has been around since theater had its beginnings with Thespis ( hence we now have “Thespians” ) in 534 BC. The theme of sexuality as a controversy was not lacking in those ancient times. It usually found its way into most plays, even if only by the fact that the storyline might consist of two lovesick fools, where the men played the part of women in those lovers’ roles.
Around a thousand years later or so, the Victorian Age, we get the playwright George Bernard Shaw.
He wrote the play “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”,  about a wealthy prostitute and her prude of a daughter.

The play was banned in Britain from being performed, due to its explicit content.
Around the same time in Germany, another play, “Spring Awakening” was being written by Frank Wedekind. This was banned in Germany, for about a century, due to its portrayal of masturbation, abortion, rape, bondage, child abuse and suicide. Needless to say,  all human life everywhere is interested in sex. It is a natural make up/design of our bodies and fortunately for Hollywood and Broadway, sex sells. Today “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” is taught in classrooms and the adapted for musical, “Spring Awakening”, has been given raving reviews and won several Tony awards.

So, if sex is only a natural desire and basic need within us all, why is it that any form of art or theater that deals with “explicit” content is considered to be “Taboo”?

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