Cultivating National Identity through Performance: American by Naomi J. Stubbs (auth.)

By Naomi J. Stubbs (auth.)

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40 Indeed, this can be seen to be explicitly the case in certain advertisements and accounts in America, such as in Durang’s description of how Mr. 41 The term “Vauxhall” can thus be seen to be a problematic one; often referring to the specific London venue, this term was also used in a generic way without a specific referent. A further complication arises when proprietors made it clear that they were invoking another specific site by using the term Vauxhall. 42 The explicit references to the French site were frequently accompanied by mentions of French customs, persons, and celebrations, with various entertainments and exhibits being billed as being from France.

Uncovering previously undiscovered instances of African Americans opening their own pleasure gardens, this chapter also questions the roles of fear, class, and prejudice in relation to race within the operations of these gardens. In exploring the roles of these races within constructions of American identities, performances of redface, whiteface, and blackface, on and off stage are considered in conjunction with the performances of the white patrons and spectators. In addition to drawing out the main arguments of this book, the conclusion questions what became of the pleasure gardens, arguing that they were the predecessors of a variety of entertainment forms, including vaudeville (indeed, the first recorded American usage of this word was at a pleasure garden), rooftop gardens, world’s fairs, and amusement parks.

45 The observation of the French anniversary was linked to the perceived close affinity many Americans saw between them and the aims and ideals of the emerging French Republic. ”46 In this event, the Gray brothers used the gardens as a space to foreground the close alliance with the French, integrating the two nations within a common ideal. 47 When the attempts at bribery by three French agents were made public in 1798, the public attitude toward the French swiftly changed to be one of outrage.

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