American University
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Censorship of the colonial theatre: American values and artistic freedom

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posted on 2023-09-06, 03:27 authored by Kevin Matthew Sturtevant

This thesis explores American theatre in the colonies of Massachusetts and Virginia during the eighteenth-century. This historical discussion focuses on various societal forces which shaped the views on theatre in each colony. This approach attempts to determine what control of the theatre was exercised in these two colonies, and how this control differed. Using manuscripts and documents from the eighteenth-century, including diaries from William Byrd II and George Washington, the role that theatre played in Virginia is examined. Writings of the leading ministers of Massachusetts, like Increase Mather and Jonathan Edwards, are also studied. This thesis concludes that the two colonies handled theatre in vastly different manners, with Virginia welcoming the arrival of theatre while Massachusetts prohibited and delayed it. This is largely due to the influences of the two colonies' strongest social forces: the Cavaliers in Virginia and the Puritans in Massachusetts.



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