The history of theater in the United States has had quite a turbulent journey to get where it currently stands. From laws prohibiting performance art during the colonial era, to the deeply racist minstrel shows, theater has had quite the growth period, but it now sits a pretty good spot with something for just about everybody.
Let’s take a look at how the different periods got us to where we are today!
1700-1800 – Theater did not get off to the best start for a number of different reasons. One is many of the newfound colonies were led by religions who disagreed with the moral implications that arose from performance art. Another being that theater had a significant British influence, and these colonizers were trying to stray away from those ideals. In fact, one performance during the early 1700s incited a riot after the crowd found out an actor was a British soldier.
The first playhouse popped up in Virginia in 1716, and soon after, in 1730, there was another in South Carolina. The rest of the colonies began to pick up on the trend, but as previously mentioned, it was slow going because of the laws restricting this form of art. In fact, these laws compared both performing and watching said productions to vices like gambling or animal fighting. Typically viewed in a negative light, actors and their careers were not deemed respectable throughout this period.
1800-1900 – Post-independence, popularity with theater grew (slowly) as questions surrounding its morality declined. It wasn’t until the mid-1850s where actors finally gained a foothold in the public’s eye. Some of the key actors were Wiliam Charles Macready, Edwin Forrest and Edwin Booth (older brother of John Wilkes Booth). Around this time theaters started popping up around the country, but nowhere seized the opportunity quite like New York. These New York theaters included Anthony Street Theatre (1813), the Chatham Garden Theatre (1824), the Lafayette Theatre (1826), the Bowery Theatre (also 1826), the Opera House (1833 – becoming the National Theatre in 1836), the Franklin Theatre (1835), and the Broadway Theatre (1847 – the first of that name).
As excitement grew, so did the number of American playwrights and homegrown American actors. No longer were Shakespearian plays the most popular, instead, they were rip-offs of Shakespeare where the “bad” guys were British characters. The audience and public loved it. Looking back, it wasn’t all positive; many shows included racist portrayals of African-Americans through “minstrel shows.” You can learn more about these types of shows through the Crash Course video below:
As time went on, minstrel shows became less and less popular, and stepping in were vaudeville productions which consisted of many unrelated acts all performing at the same show. Acts that encompassed everything from trained animals, to comedians, to singers to even the great Harry Houdini. The vaudeville acts had a prominent foothold in society until the 1930s. Traditional theater was entering its “golden age” too. From the early 1900s to when cinema started in the 1930s, actors of this time were held in as high regard as modern day movie stars.
1930-Present Day – Theater has gone a number of different ways through several different mediums. As vaudeville acts died off, musical theater and realism became increasingly popular. The realism productions had a more serious and mature tone to them. On the other hand, as the hype around musicals ensued, so did the growth of Broadway. Broadway had a massive influence until the 70s when many theaters were forced to shut down. In 1990, however, the city of New York wanted to make a change, so they cleaned up the area and converted it to what it is today, an entertainment district specializing in lavish musicals and glitzy hotels.
So what state is theater in today? Let’s see some facts!
We might be biased, but we definitely think our fabulous Snowy Owl Theater belongs on that list. Don’t you? We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and we can’t wait until we can see you in our theater again! Until then, stay safe!
“Icicle Creek Center for the Arts is a place where learning, creating, and performing inspire and nurture the human spirit in a spectacular mountain setting.”
Our mission is at the heart of everything we do here, and it’s easily seen with the hugely impactful educational programs we host throughout the year. From our Youth Symphony to our acting and theater camps to our beloved Chamber Music Institute, our reach is worldwide, and our programs are world-class.
Why is it that we believe in the power of the arts so much? What about our campus and our Leavenworth community is so unique that it is the highlight of the year for most campers? Listen to just a few testimonials from previous institute students and find out.
We believe in the power of arts for many reasons but one of the main reasons are the measurable benefits of learning an instrument. These benefits stretch way beyond obtaining a new skill. There is scientific research that shows it helps not just in school, but it also positively impacts ambition and conscientiousness. So let’s dive in on how much of an the impact the arts can make on one’s brain.
Listening to music is one thing. A rush of dopamine, similar to the rush we get from pleasurable activities like eating our favorite dessert, which helps alleviate stress, spur creativity, and all in all, puts us in a better mood. Learning to play an instrument, however, opens up an entirely different batch of cognitive and social benefits. Watch Alan Harvey brilliantly explain this in TEDx Perth:
The impact doesn’t stop at better grades, or being more alert or even having a better memory. In this Inc. article, lead researcher, Simon Landry, at the University of Montreal states, “The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times.” It doesn’t stop there though; he goes on to say that “Musicians also have an altered statistical use of multi-sensory information. This means that they’re better at integrating the inputs from various senses.”
An Article by Penn Medicine also talks about how playing music keeps the brain healthy. John Dani, Ph.D. states, “(playing music) engages every major part of the Central Nervous System.” But why is this? Because playing an instrument engages both sides of the brain, the article goes on to say. When you play the violin, for example, since the right hand is doing something completely different than the left, your brain “uses the peripheral nervous system, which controls movement of your fingers, as well as gross and fine motor skills. The brain’s executive function – which plans and makes decisions – comes into play as a musician plays one part but keeps focus on what’s coming next.”
The positive effects don’t go away even if and when you stop playing. In an article by National Geographic, reduced memory loss and defense against cognitive decline occurs as musicians get older, even if they haven’t played an instrument in years. The reason for this is when children and young adults learn an instrument; their brain creates additional neural connections that last a lifetime.
“In Hanna-Pladdy’s first study on the subject, published in 2011, she divided 70 healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 83 into three groups: musicians who had studied an instrument for at least ten years, those who had played between one and nine years, and a control group who had never learned an instrument or how to read music. Then she had each of the subjects take a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests.
The group who had studied for at least ten years scored the highest in such areas as nonverbal and visuospatial memory, naming objects, and taking in and adapting new information. By contrast, those with no musical training performed least well, and those who had played between one and nine years were in the middle.
In other words, the more they had trained and played, the more benefit the participants had gained. But, intriguingly, they didn’t lose all of the benefits even when they hadn’t played music in decades.”
The power of the arts stretches so much further than onto the theater stage. The lifelong positive impact shows in all areas of school, ambition and overall brain health. Not to mention the memories and friendships that occur while on the journey to becoming a musician. This is why Icicle Creek Center for the Arts believes so heavily in our mission and the power of the arts.
The world as a whole is going through unprecedented and rather uncertain times currently. With stay at home orders getting issued in more and more states and Gov. Inslee cancelling school for the rest of the year, there are a lot of question marks surrounding every day life.
One thing that mustn’t be left for questioning is the power and importance of the arts. All types of business are feeling the effects this pandemic is causing, with Icicle Creek being no different. Having to cancel events not only impacts us, but it impacts local business, local artists and so much more.
Why are the arts so important right now? As everyone is at home, finding passion through the arts can be an incredibly beneficial way to navigate this quarantine. You don’t have to look far, either, the arts are everywhere! Whether it be reading a new book, taking pictures of the stunning mountains that surround us, or grabbing some colored pencils and a piece of paper and drawing the view from your window, the arts can truly help you find the beauty in life right now.
All that said, there are many ways to help keep the arts vibrant locally so when this is all over we will be able to enjoy all of the theater, singing and dancing as before. Here are some ways to support the Leavenworth art scene:
Support local artists – Leavenworth is home to some amazing artists that get much of their inspiration from right outside their front door. Whether it be buying a print, original or even setting up a commission, local artists would love to help out in any way they can.
Donate to the arts – There are many places to donate right now and it truly comes down to what you’re passionate about. If you are financially able, donating to the arts is a great way for them to make up for the cancelled events.
Share content – Everyone has to move to the digital side of business right now and there is a lot of content being thrown every which way, but, if you can sift through it all, sharing this content with people who might not see it truly helps out these businesses for life after quarantine.
These are just a few reasons why the arts are so important and how to give back. Here at Icicle Creek we want to see your creativity! If you haven’t seen our emails or social media go check them out! We have started a #DailyArtDose where we offer up some form of art every day for people to enjoy and hopefully get their minds off of these stressful times. That being said, we want you to contribute! Paint something, or sing something or play some instrument and post it to social media, tag us and use the #DailyArtDose and we will share it! We hope to see your creativity soon!
The arts are an incredible way to keep you occupied and sharp during these uncertain times. Painting with coffee, using food coloring for water colors and repurposing everyday items to make your own art gallery can be a great way to keep your mind busy while also having FUN!
We too wish we could see you at Snowy Owl Theater for an opera or in Canyon Wren Recital Hall for a chamber music concert, and although we can’t right now, there are still plenty of amazing ways to have fun with the arts! Check out our list of resources below!
Click here for 27 art activities you can do at home!
Check out this link for 100 silly drawing prompts everyone will love here!
Click here for 4 fun one day art activities! Includes drawing, coloring and taking pictures!
Amazon has allowed over 40 titles for kids tv shows to be streamed for free, even without prime, during this time! Click here.
ArtsEd Washington released school curriculum for art for students K-6! A great resource. Click here!
A great blog for keeping busy while still getting educated through the arts while at home! Check it out here!
We want to see your creativity at Icicle Creek! If you finish one of these activities, post it to social media with the hashtag #DailyArtDose and tag us so we can see it!
The Met: Live in HD has been a Saturday morning staple at Icicle Creek for over 7 years when we streamed Eugene Onegin for the first time. It is most definitely a sight to behold walking into Snowy Owl Theater as the sun shines on the mountains; oh, and who could forget about the mimosas? During this time our theater has allowed opera lovers across North Central Washington, and especially Leavenworth, to experience the next best thing besides witnessing an opera in person at The Met.
With some of the best operas in the world having blessed our screen, we figured we should probably talk about some fun facts regarding The Met, and who knows, you might learn something new!
How old? The first opera ever held on its stage was Faust on October 22nd, 1883.
In the early years, there was a lot of change in management and after the first full season, the manager at the time, Henry E. Abbey, left the house with a $600,000 deficit.
Wanting their own theater, The Met was originally founded by wealthy businessmen on the corner of Broadway and 39th Street. It was soon realized that this location didn’t offer the amenities necessary for state of the art productions. In 1966 the move was made and the house is now part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
32 world premieres which include some of the greatest operas ever. Some of the works included among the expansive list are, La Fanciulla del West, Königskinder and The Ghosts of Versailles.
Though we have been streaming The Met in Snowy Owl since 2013, the first ever opera to be broadcasted was Hänsel und Gretel on Christmas Day in 1931.
Life has rapidly changed for everyone in America and the effects can be felt in every industry, sector and household. With kids here in Wenatchee Valley on a break from school for at least six weeks and many of us stuck at home, we are left to wonder, what is there to do?
There are many online resources to help you out with this predicament. From hiking the many trails around the area, to continuing education, to even playing video games, USA Today has a great, and comical, list of what people can do to keep the boredom at bay. And, who would have thought, three out of the first five relate to the ARTS!
One idea that is perfect for around Leavenworth is to get out and enjoy the outdoors. With the sun shining and it getting warmer everyday, one of the best ways to social distance is to get out into the fresh air. Going for a walk or a hike is a perfect recipe to pass time while staying healthy. Make sure to stay 6 feet apart!
Are you, or someone you know, off from school right now? Stay sharp by starting to write. A daily journal, a blog, poetry, pretty much anything. Get those creative juices flowing and who knows, you might find your new favorite hobby!
What about that piano collecting dust? Or the guitar over in the corner a little out of tune by now? What a great time to learn, and an even better time to brush up on your skills. Have a musical family? Have nightly family jam sessions! Penn Medicine talks about the benefits of learning an instrument saying, “While learning to play an instrument as a child provides life-long benefits to the brain, taking music lessons in your 60s – or older – can boost your brain’s health as well, helping to decrease loss of memory and cognitive function.”
Playing music is a great way to pass the time and keep the brain working, but listening to music works too! Here’s an idea, try and find your favorite songs from a genre you never listen to and make a playlist. Here is one of our favorite playlists on Spotify!
If you’re stuck at home with nothing to do, try something from this list, you just might discover the true power of the arts!