Special Collections Faculty and Staff Publications

Title

“’To be unrecognized by such an age as this, is an honor’—a study of Dion Boucicault’s unpublished play, Ourselves.”

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

October 2012

Abstract

In a paper written shortly before his death in 1890, Dion Boucicault acknowledged that the time for melodramatic and sensationalist theatre had passed, and declared that the new drama “will be designed with one object, not to surprise the spectator with startling incident. The incidents will be merely contrivances to exhibit the characters.” Until now, however, critics have neglected to mention that Boucicault tried his hand at this ‘modern drama’ when he wrote Ourselves c. 1888. The play was never produced, perhaps because it represented a radical departure from traditional Boucicault fare. Ourselves is a comedy of manners involving characters rehearsing for an upcoming theatre production in New York. The director of this fictional production, Inigo Jones, is a ‘broken-down tragedian’ whose acerbic commentary on the modern age makes him a thinly veiled version of Boucicault himself, while the popular Guy Deloraine is a perfect example of the type of actor Boucicault despised--one who cultivates his social and press influences to the neglect of his art . There are also rakes and rogues, heiresses and ‘gushers’, and an insufferable playwright rounding out the cast. This paper will examine Ourselves in light of its characters, social commentary, and dramatic realism, while also evaluating its significance within Boucicault’s vast body of work.

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