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Theater Arts of the Allies in the Great War (March 2013): Conclusion

By Felicia Hardison Londré


With few exceptions, information about the performing arts during the Great War is embedded in larger cultural studies.  Further study of specific entertainment initiatives by American and French theater artists during the war are needed to complete the record as the British have done for their own theater of the era in the various works cited here.  Women’s studies, African American studies, and motion picture history are the apparent growth areas in broadly conceived contemporary cultural studies of the Great War.

There remains great latitude for analysis of plays written between 1914 and 1929 for their war-related themes and topical allusions.  The war remained vivid in the national consciousness of both Europeans and Americans well into the 1920s, despite the frantic frivolity of that decade.  Beyond the war-themed dramas, one might well mine the lighter commercial fare for brief but telling allusions to the doughboy experience in France.  Plays and cabaret sketches are preserved for readers on the page, but few scholars—apart from the British examples noted in this essay—have tied that literature to its presentation on the stage.  Thus, there is also a need for theater historians to comb the stage reviews for what they reveal about attitudes of mainstream theatergoers both during and after the conflict.