Today Bryan is lecturing on Royall Tyler’s 1787 play The Contrast, which he discusses in the context of anitheatrical prejudice in the early national period. (Click here for the online illustrated edition at the University of Virginia.)
Last week, I quoted from the introduction to Kenneth Jackson and David S. Dunbar’s anthology of New York writing, Empire City: New York Through the Centuries.
In 1624 when the Dutch first set up a trading post on Manhattan, their goal was not to convert the Indians or to practice a special religion but to make money. Visiting Manhattan in 1774 from Puritan Boston, John Adams expressed disdain:
The title sounds like the opening line of a joke: “John Adams, Royall Tyler, and Woody Allen walked into a bar.”
The bar tender looked up and asked: “What is this, some kind of joke?”
Well, the post does have the structure of a joke: the YouTube clip is the punchline!
I like the extended clip, which I haven’t seen for years. The little soldiers’ play about VD is especially good — and relevant to lecture! (I’ve just been showing the short version from the theater scene since 2003; I can’t remember when I last watched the whole film.) I think in class I said they were in Napoleonic France. Same period, but they’re supposed to be in St. Petersburg. My bad. I clearly need to watch the whole again.
I’m always surprised when I ask in class if anyone’s seen the whole film and no one ever has. I thought that’s why people went to college: to watch Woody Allen’s entire catalog. Well, at least up through the mid-80s. Then you can skip around a little, I guess.