Burlesque is a term which refers to a literary, dramatic or musical work that caricatures the manner, style or subject of serious works and their subjects. Deriving from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery. Another derivative from the Italian is burletta, which usually refers to a brief comic Italian (or, later, English) opera.
Often found in the case of Shakespeare's plays for example.
A particular form developed by the minstrelsy movement was the so-called Ethiopian burlesque, often played in blackface, and popular in Cape Town in the mid 19th century. Also found as an Ethiopian opera, Ethiopian farce, or Ethiopian sketch.
"Ethiopian" was a term often of course employed simply as a euphemism for "negro" (or "nigger"), as in most of these cases, thus one would find such forms as Negro farce, Negro burlesque, or Negro sketch.
Examples included: Hamlet the Dainty, "an Ethiopian burlesque on Shakespeare's Hamlet" by George W. H. Griffin (1829-1879); Othello an "Ethiopian burlesque in 3 Acts", Shylock, or De Old Clothes Merchant of Venice ("Grand Ethiopian Burlesque"), Mazeppa ("Grand Ethiopian Burlesque").
"Burlesque" in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlesque)
"Burletta" in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burletta)
William John Mahar. 1999. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. University of Illinois Press: pp. 159-161
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