America-In-Play Medicine Show, pt. 2: Bridging the Historical Gap

America-in-Play offers a rare opportunity for dialogues across several divides in the field of American Drama.  As an organization, AIP brings together artists and scholars to explore the overlooked history of American theatrical entertainment that is so often traced back only as far as Eugene O’Neill.  Starting from the premise that American theatre pre-O’Neill was part of a vital tradition that can still inspire work today, AIP has been behind innovative projects to use the popular culture of the past to inspire current work.  In 2009, AIP used Benjamin Baker’s 1848 hit A Glance at New York, a comedy about two outsiders who venture to New York and get involved with Mose, an exemplary city tough, to create two new pieces based on attitudes to the modern city, the economy, and the afterlives of the original characters.  Now, as Jenn has so thoroughly discussed, AIP is taking on an even more ambitious project by connecting an entire type of popular performance to immigration.

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