ethnicity in American drama
- While ethnicity spawned numerous comic stereotypes on variety stages, legitimate drama depicted its share of first-generation Americans or recent immigrants, either for comic relief or to liven up utility roles and only rarely to make a social statement. Plays like Street Scene, Gods of the Lightning, The Front Page, and They Knew What They Wanted bring together characters from various ethnic backgrounds, all treated with respect despite lingering clichés. Edward Harrigan's Mulligan Guard plays and others like Squatter Sovereignity depicted New York City's Lower East Side "melting pot."The juxtaposition of Irish and Jewish occurs in numerous plays, epitomized by Abie's Irish Rose by Anne Nichols. Aaron Hoffman also focused affectionately upon Jewish and Irish characters in comedies like Two Blocks Away. Italians and Russians tended to be found in comedies, while Asians began to appear in melodramas like The Shanghai Gesture after the turn of the century. Plays about African American characters or folk life appeared with increasing frequency in the 1920s.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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