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Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
THE SECOND MOST PERFORMED ANTI-SLAVERY PLAY (THEATRE.) BOUCICAULT, DION. The Octoroon; or Life in the Sunny South. Original letterpress theater broadside, 19 x 7 1/4 inches with large woodcut vignette in the center depicting a slave auction. Boston: F.A. Searle, Printer, 1869
In 1859 the runaway success of the New York Christmas theatrical season was Dion Boucicault's "Octoroon." A hit, despite strident condemnation by Bennet's New York Herald, which maintained that "it is certainly disgraceful that the people of this metropolis--and they are conservative and sound in their hearts--cannot even go to the theatre without having the almighty nigger thrust under their noses." Boucicault's play, which starred his wife Agnes Robertson in the title role, ran until late January of 1860 and then was immediately picked up by not one but two theatres. Other theatres throughout the North-East followed, making it the second most frequently performed anti-slavery play, after George Aiken's adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin." In many ways, the Octoroon is a more significant piece of theatre. Appearing as it did, three days after John Brown was hanged, and in an atmosphere of deep division, The Octoroon was the first American play to have an African-American heroine at its center. And it was also the first American play to address the subtleties of the "fatal drop of blood" that marked one as "black" in America.
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