Hi there, and welcome to “Abstract and Brief,” a blog devoted to theatre history. This project grew out of my need to share some of what I spend my time researching and teaching with a wider audience. My chosen field is…niche, to put it politely, and I reached a point where I began to feel that I had to find some way to put what I had out there in a non-academic setting in order to convey (and maybe maintain) my excitement over this obscure but fascinating field of study. It very well may be a Stockholm Syndrome kind of situation, given how long I’ve been cooped up with old tales of performances gone by, but I love this stuff, and I want to share it with more than just my colleagues (although they are all awesome people and you should totally read their work too!).
My goal is to post here about once a week (ah, what admirable intentions! so bright! so innocent! so doomed!) about things that I’ve come across, either in my teaching, my research, or in the many idle moments I spend procrastinating on those two things. My main focus will be on specific documents and images, which will hopefully keep these posts tightly focused on specific items, rather than sprawling into generalized information that you could just as easily have gotten from a textbook or other, more reputable, source. This is by no means a replacement for scholarly work, mine or otherwise, but that’s sort of the point. There’s a place for that kind of specialization, but I’m hoping to turn this into something that someone without the slightest bit of background knowledge can read and enjoy.
My main focus is on American theatre history, especially from the colonial period up to World War II. More specifically, I focus on the rise of celebrity as a cultural force in American theatre, long before Hollywood became the epicenter of the international fame-making industry. Because of this focus, this blog may be a bit biased towards American theatre from a certain period, but I’ll try to vary it up as much as possible. At any rate, “Abstract and Brief” will attempt to bring something new to the conversation, rather than crank out the umpteenth essay about “Why Shakespeare is So Amazing.” I mean, yes, the plays are amazing, but I don’t feel like I have anything original to say on that score, and anyways, we all know that the works of “Shakespeare” were really written by a cabal of shape-shifting aliens who had infiltrated Elizabethan London.
A final word, just by way of fair warning: I may, from time to time, post something about contemporary theatre, just because I’m interested in it and because I can. So there.