Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin can refer to one of two stage works:
Not to confused with the Canadian film My American Cousin (1985)
Our American Cousin farce in three acts by Tom Taylor (1858)
The original text
Written by Tom Taylor (1817-1880), the play tells of the introduction of an awkward, boorish, but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate.
The play premiered at Laura Keene's Theatre, New York, in 15 October 1858, with "Asa Trenchard" played by Joseph Jefferson and "Lord Dundreary" by Edward Askew Sothern (1826-1881), and wnet on to a long and successful run of 496 performances at the Haymarket Theatre in 1861.
The play is often best remembered in modern times as the play that Abraham Lincoln was attending in Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 1865, on the night he was assassinated.
Translations and adaptations
Sothern's interpretation not only turned the "Dundreary" into a leading role, but made him a recurring character in a number of subsequent spin-offs and sequels, including Our American Cousin at Home, or Lord Dundreary Abroad (a sequel by Charles Gayler, 1860), Dundreary Married and Done For (H. J. Byron), and Brother Sam (by John Oxenford, 1862) (1862; revived in 1865), a play about Dundreary's brother. The 2008 opera, Our American Cousin (Sawyer and Shoptaw), is another kind of homage to the play (see below).
There is also a one act play entitled My American Cousin, or A Slight Misunderstanding said to be "a Petite New Drama in 1 Act, written expressly for Mrs Tellett by a Gentleman of Cape Town". No further information is available on the play or the author, though it may possibly have been inspired by Taylor's play (or at least the title of the play). The one act play was in fact performed by Mrs Tellett and her company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 23 June, 1862, as an afterpiece to Madeleine, or The Daughter of the Regiment (Stirling).
Performance history in South Africa
1876: Performed as Lord Dundreary, or The American Cousin by the Disney Roebuck Company, under the management of C. Wilstone, in the Theatre Royal, Burg Street, Cape Town, on 16 October, as a benefit for J.B. Howe.
1876: Performed as Lord Dundreary, or The American Cousin by the Disney Roebuck Company, under the management of C. Wilstone, in the Theatre Royal, Burg Street, Cape Town, on 17 and 19 October, with The Irish Emigrant (Brougham).
Our American Cousin an opera in three acts by Sawyer and Shoptaw (2008)
Written by American composer Eric Sawyer, with libretto by John Shoptaw, the opera recounts the assassination of Abraham Lincoln t Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865.
The premiere of the full opera was on June 20, 2008, at the Academy of Music Theater, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
For more about the opera, see the Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_American_Cousin_(opera)
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