Andrew Barton, Colonial American dramatist

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Date: 1767

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion Language

Medium: Theatre


Artists: Andrew Barton, David Douglass

Confronting Bodies: Quakers and Presbyterians in Philadelphia

Date of Action: 1767

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Description of Artwork: Barton's musical, The Disappointment, enforces the idea that people should "stop the foolish and pernicious practice of searching after supposed hidden treasure." The piece tells the story of a local colonist who searches for the legendary pirate, Blackbeard's, treasure. The play has several subplots, including a love story.

The Incident: The American Company was the first permanent theater company in America. Its director, David Douglass, cancelled the production of The Disappointment after recieving complaints from local Quakers and Presbyterians. They suggested that the play contained "personal reflections...unfit for the stage." Early critics believed that the play was rife with "coarseness and immorality." The Disappointment was the first play produced by an American author.

Results of Incident: The play was removed from the theater company's schedule. Douglass had planned more original plays, though none became popular.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones