Group Presentation: The Indian Princess
During the 19th century, many plays and other such methods of entertainment were seen as valuable works of art as many people became immersed in the world that these structures would bring into life. The Indian Princess by James Barker is one such masterpiece as it depicts the meeting between English colonists and the Native American Indian tribe which will inevitably end with the marriage between the chief’s daughter Pocahontas and Englishman John Rolfe. Ever since its first performance although this story has been told through many other viewpoints and other such depictions, its very first performance captivated people but also brought forth many questions about how many theatre performances did similar practices as James Barker did as well.
In order to understand how theatre operated itself during those tumultuous times, it is best that we look toward certain events that not only shaped the 19th century but also changed the very landscape from then on. One such event was the advent of the Industrial Revolution in which many new inventions were created such as the creation of the steam engine which revolutionized the textile manufacturing industry along with the new factories which relied on new machinery alongside the factory workers themselves who tended to work very long hours without the proportionate amount of pay in accordance to the task. The advent of Nationalism was also seen as a phenomenon as many countries wanted to create a unified nation by conquering other lands while touting their own supposed superiority. With such backdrops shaping the era, it was a time of great change both politically and socially with plays ready to tell their own unique stories.
The audience who populated the stands during this were very diverse as thanks to the creation of the transcontinental railway system many new people came to see these performances from all over. The creation of new playhouses and other such venues were directly proportional to the various successes of these new kinds of overarching plays. Another result of this great popularity included the fact that many literary figures such as Charles Dickens were determined to create their own works as plays, thus giving away the true extent that plays began to influence this era by a great amount.
There were many acting styles that dominated the plays of the 19th century but it is well known that several famous actors at the time specialized in either the classical, romantic and melodramatic styles overall. In the United States and England the most popular actors were the ones who could repeat and specialize in one of these styles but unfortunately ended up being typecast into these roles for their career. The art of using vocal patterns and movements derided from everyday life became a new and unique style which originated within this new era.
Although the jobs of playwright – manager and actor – managers were decidedly different, they both held the similar goal of trying to ultimately create a more unified stage so that not only the performance goes well but that all of the rehearsals and various production details went perfectly as well. Similar to James Barker, they also used various historical allegations and reports as a backdrop for the story that they wove for the people. The usage of this reality based playwriting has been felt long after its inception.