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Censorship of the American Theatre in the Twentieth Century
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  • Page extent: 344 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.63 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 363.31
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PN2044.U62 H68 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Theater--Censorship--United States--History--20th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521818193 | ISBN-10: 0521818192)

John Houchin explores the impact of censorship in twentieth-century American theatre, arguing that theatrical censorship coincided with significant challenges to religious, political and cultural systems. The study provides a summary of theatre censorship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and analyses key episodes from 1900 to 2000. These include attempts to censure Olga Nethersole for her production of Sappho in 1901 and the theatre riots of 1913 that greeted the Abbey Theatre's production of Playboy of the Western World. Houchin explores the efforts to suppress plays in the 1920s that dealt with transgressive sexual material and investigates Congress' politically motivated assaults on plays and actors during the 1930s and 1940s. He investigates the impact of racial violence, political assassinations and the Vietnam War on the trajectory of theatre in the 1960s and concludes by examining the response to gay activist plays such as Angels in America.

• No book yet published examines this topic in such detail • Links the evolution of theatre to social, political, religious and moral developments • An accessible study, which avoids the use of too much critical jargon


Introduction; 1. Overture: theatrical censorship from the puritans to Anthony Comstock; 2. Bad girls, tough guys and the changing of the guard; 3. Flappers and fanatics; 4. Have you now or have you ever …; 5. Bye, bye American pie; 6. The past is prologue.


'… scholars interested in controversial American theatrical productions in the twentieth century will find the book to be a very good starting point.' Journal of American Studies

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