By John H. Houchin

Arguing that theatrical censorship coincides with major demanding situations to spiritual, political and cultural traditions, John Houchin explores its impression on twentieth-century American theatre. besides the well known instance of the home Un-American actions Committee within the Fifties, different virtually both influential occasions affected the process the yank degree in the course of the century. After a precis of censorship in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century the USA, Houchin analyzes key political and theatrical occasions among 1900 and 2000.

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73 OV ER T U R E : F R O M T H E P U R I TA N S T O A N T H O N Y CO M S T O C K  The original company only numbered five members, but soon began to grow as word spread that there was a theatre in Boston. From August 28 to October 24 the company’s membership grew to twenty-one. 74 Some Bostonians, however, still objected to the fact that an illegal theatre was operating in Boston. The most ardent opponent of the New Exhibition Room was none other than Governor John Hancock. He considered the presentation of plays a direct challenge to the authority of the state and ordered Boston officials to close the theatre.

That year George Wood contracted Lydia Thompson and her burlesque troupe, soon to be known as the “British Blondes,” to appear at the newly renovated Banvard’s Museum and Theatre. While legal sanctions of burlesque would not proliferate until the twentieth century, the responses to Thompson and her company are crucial. They marked the first instance that the issue of female representation dominated the anti-theatrical discourse in the United States. It was an issue that would be debated for over 100 years.

Olive Logan, an actress and feminist, carried on a sustained and passionate attack against burlesque. As an actress she detested “leg business” and “yellow haired nudities” because they demeaned and compromised honest, young women who sought careers in theatre. Instead of artistry, she argued OV ER T U R E : F R O M T H E P U R I TA N S T O A N T H O N Y CO M S T O C K  that the only attributes needed by the women of burlesque were a comely body and shamelessness: 1. Is your hair dyed yellow?

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