Publication details

Early Development of the "Stage Indian" : From the Paxton Boys to the Wild West Show



Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Early Development of the "Stage Indian": From The Paxton Boys to the Wild West Show. Preliminary abstract: Early American drama and theatre in the 18th and 19th centuries saw several stages of defining, re-shaping and exploiting the dramatic character which has become known as the "stage Indian". Like any other stock character of its own kind, the "stage Indian" represents a set of qualities and values, which rather reflect period theatrical conventions (a construct of an aesthetic norm) than historically accurate descriptions. The "stage Indian" delivered a "native flavor" to period drama. The clash between the "stage Indian", and even more so of Native American actors/performers and their stage-identities later on, and conventions of melodrama of the 19th century American theatre (for example, Forrest's impersonation of Metamora and Native American chiefs' roles in the Wild West Show, respectively) gave rise to a range of character types, which have become a staple of the American cultural industry. In their shaping required by period tastes, these early performances of the Native identities are the foundations of representations, which are only rarely challenged aesthetically. Yet, this is exactly the reason why the (mis)represented "stage Indian" figure often makes such a juicy target for criticism coming from other areas, such as historical or cultural studies.
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