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Percy MacKaye: Spatial Formations of a National Character

Mehler, Michael Peter (2010) Percy MacKaye: Spatial Formations of a National Character. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Percy MacKaye has been mostly ignored by theatre historians and dramatic critics despite the large numbers of spectators, participants, and readers who encountered his work during the first third of the twentieth century. The fifth son of nineteenth-century theatre impresario, Steele MacKaye, Percy first embarked on a career in the commercial theatre, writing for established stars such as Julia Marlowe. However, MacKaye garnered much more public attention for his endeavors into community performance, what he termed civic theatre. He wrote several treatises and delivered countless speeches advocating for the civic theatre. In 1914, at the peak of his career, MacKaye wrote and produced The Masque of Saint Louis, which incorporated thousands of community performers and drew nightly audiences that averaged nearly 100,000.This investigation of MacKaye's works relies heavily on spatial analysis, looking at how contemporary American spaces related to the scenographic spaces in these plays and masques. Specifically, this dissertation investigates how immigration and settlement house activities, world's fairs, the City Beautiful movement, and national parks and monuments presented idealized versions of the American landscape and how these activities affected both MacKaye and participants and spectators. Throughout his symbiotic relationship with these cultural components, MacKaye continually asserted the importance of an American theatrical tradition distinct from its European influences. MacKaye yearned to forge a national character through community performances that tied American identity to its landscape.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mehler, Michael
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie, Bruce Abamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee MemberFavorini, Attiliobuckfav@pitt.eduBUCKFAV
Committee MemberMuller, Edward Kekmuller@pitt.eduEKMULLER
Committee MemberGeorge, Kathleen Egeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Date: 23 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 January 2010
Approval Date: 23 June 2010
Submission Date: 23 March 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: American pageantry; Little Theatre Movement
Other ID:, etd-03232010-115727
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:32
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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