Theatrical Forms, Ideological Conflicts, and the Staging of Obi
Jeffrey N. Cox, University of Colorado at Boulder
information, see Avery et al, and Burling, esp. 171-74, 202-206. Obi
continued to be popular in the theater: it received twenty performances
the next summer and fifteen in 1802; it continued long in the repertoire
of the theaters in London, the provinces (it was a hit on the York circuit
in 1801 and 1802), and the United States. Despite local interest, it did
not play in Jamaica until 1862, and then only for one performance of a
much altered version (See Hill).
know that Aldridge played Obi in March 1830 at the Theatre Royal
Bristol in a "new and beautiful Melodrama, founded on fact, and written
expressly for the African Roscius by J. Murray, Esq." Of course, this
"new" melodrama was in fact an adaptation of Fawcett's pantomime. Obi
had been part of the repertoire of the African Theatre in New York, so
it is possible that Aldridge performed in the play prior to his move to
England, probably in 1824; we know he was playing the part as late as
1860. See also Marshall and Stock, 89, 250.
Obi, see Rzepka, Hoskins and Cox ("Introduction").
also Cox ("Ideology and Genre"), Connoly, and Nicholson.
were attempts to write tragedies that treated slavery, including Thomas
Southerne's 1695 adaptation of Aphra Behn's Oroonoko (and later
revisions of his play) and Inkle and Yarico: A Tragedy of Three Acts
(1742) ascribed to Mrs. Weddell, but there are surprisingly few such works.
also wrote an adaptation of Kotzebue's Perouse; or, The Desolate Island
(Covent Garden, 1801), two ballets, The Fairies' Revels; or, Love in
the Highlands (Haymarket, 1802) and The Enchanted Island (Haymarket,
1804), a melodrama with Thomas John Dibdin entitled The Secret Mine
(Covent Garden, 1812), and a version of The Barber of Seville written
with Daniel Terry (Covent Garden, 1818).
the harlequinade, see Mayer.
a possible link between Harlequin and portrayals of "blackness," see Gates
(Figures in Black), 51-52. See also Lott, Cockrell, and Lhamon.
example, in 1810, Colman wrote to one of his partners about a play that
was being prepared for the Haymarket, expressing his "utter astonishment"
that "Over the Water Charley" was to be sung at the close: "This is putting
a lighted match to a barrel of gunpowder. . . . Surely you must be aware,
with all the world, that this is a rebel song?" (Qtd. in Sutcliffe, p.
6). The song alone, independent of context, was enough to stir up the