Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/284

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CHAPTER XVIII

The Drama, 1860-1918

FOR the ten years preceding the advent of Bronson Howard, the American drama settled upon staid and not very vigorous times. The Civil War was not conducive to original production at the time; and its influence was not great upon the character of the amusement in the American theatre. Only after many years had passed, and after local and national feeling had been allowed to cool, did the Civil War become a topic for the stage,—in such dramas as William Gillette's Held by the Enemy (Madison Square Theatre, 16 August, 1886),[1] Shenandoah (Star Theatre, 9 September, 1889) by Bronson Howard, The Girl I Left Behind Me (Empire Theatre, 25 January, 1893) by David Belasco and Franklyn Fyles, The Heart of Maryland (Herald Square Theatre, 22 October, 1895) by David Belasco, William Gillette's Secret Service (Garrick Theatre, 5 October, 1896), James A. Herne's Griffith Davenport (Washington, Lafayette Square Theatre, 16 January, 1899), Barbara Frietchie (Criterion Theatre, 24 October, 1899) by Clyde Fitch. No one dared to take the moral issue of the war and treat it seriously, Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (first played 24 August, 1852) having ante-dated the internecine struggle. Even today, the subject of the negro and his relation with the white is one warily handled by the American dramatist. Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon (Winter Garden, 5 December, 1859), was typical of the way that dramatist had of making hay out of the popular sunshine of others. William DeMille wanted to treat of the negro s social isolation, but compromised when he came to write Strongheart (Hudson Theatre, 30 January,

  1. Unless it is otherwise stated, the theatres and dates given with the titles of plays apply to initial New York productions.