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Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater Hardcover – June 4, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


”For readers seeking a glimpse of the inner workings of theater personnel and cultural brokers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ‘Pittsburgh in Stages’ is a good start. For those who want  a stimulating synopsis within an accurate social and political setting, this is it.”

—Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography

"Enlightening . . . a definitive history . . . a superb job of describing the evolution of Pittsburgh theater."
--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A unique work of historical scholarship. Conner’s finest achievement is how in constructing this ‘social history’ she so vividly demonstrates the deep ties of Pittsburgh theatre to its ethnic and religious communities in a manner that the different cultures of the city’s diverse neighborhoods come alive in the reader’s mind. . . Adorned with excellent illustrations, maps and photos.”
—New England Theatre Journal

“Ultimately, in treating stage productions and their reception as a barometer of civic development and community life, [‘Pittsburgh in Stages’] reveals as much about the social and economic oganization of Pittsburgh as it does about theatre history.”
—Theatre Journal

About the Author

Lynne Conner is associate professor of theater arts at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Spreading the Gospel of Modern Dance: Newspaper Dance Criticism in the United States, 1850-1935 and coauthor of In the Garden of Live Flowers. Her arts commentary and performance reviews have appeared in a wide variety of journals, newspapers, documentaries, and radio broadcasts.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (June 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822943301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822943303
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,389,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The author skillfully presents the development of Pittsburgh theater in step with concurrent social trends, both local and widespread. She reveals that the early respectable theatrical achievements, subsidized by the cultural establishment, were later purposely concealed to the point of denial. She chronicles the voracious local commercial theater patronage at the end of the 19th Century, resulting from the unprecedented prosperity, leisure time, and enormous population growth fueled by the Industrial Revolution. Centralized efficient theatrical syndicates thereupon first overpowered and drained off local theatrical expertise, and then rendered Pittsburgh an inconvenient by-way for touring companies.
Fascination with motion pictures first took hold in Pittsburgh; legitimate live theater came to an abrupt halt with popularity of talking motion pictures, an industrialized mass-produced form of entertainment. The remnants of stagecraft degenerated into prurient enterprises. However, legitimate theater was recognized to have propaganda value, as well as some vestigial demand, and therefore began to be subsidized and promoted at a reduced scope akin to its pre-industrial status. It soon joined forces with the rest of the cultural establishment (including its onetime adversary motion pictures) to revive the Western medieval ideal of resurrecting the primitive wholesome pre-agricultural utopia of the Garden of Eden, sidetracked in favor of the worldly individualistic classical Renaissance and its abhorrent spawn the Industrial Revolution.
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Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater
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