The White slave
- This antebellum melodrama written in "seven tableaux" by Bartley Campbell opened on 3 April 1882 for 40 performances at Haverly's Theatre. The play, which became Campbell's greatest success, featured Georgia Cayvan as Lisa, the mixed-race daughter of a judge's black housekeeper. Expecting to be freed when the judge dies, Lisa and her mother instead find themselves caught up in the machinations of William Lacy, the unscrupulous man to whom Clay, the judge's adopted son, sells his father's property. Lacy lusts after Lisa and threatens to banish her to slavery unless she acquiesces to his desires. Lisa bravely refuses, offering the play's famous line, "Rags are royal raiment when worn for virtue's sake." Clay learns that Lisa is the daughter of the judge, catches on to Lacy's nefarious ways, rescues Lisa, and succeeds in sending Lacy to prison. Clay and Lisa acknowledge their love. Critics were decidedly negative, with the New York Times critic calling it "a luridly sensational affair, and overcrowded with merely theatrical effect—opens vigorously, compactly, and, after its fashion, effectively; it begins as a promising melodrama, and it fizzles out drearily." Despite such brickbats, including unfavorable comparisons with the enduringly popular Uncle Tom's Cabin and Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon, The White Slave was frequently revived before World War I.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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