History News Network: The Drunkard
Late Breaking News Story!
Today we are reporting live from Kimball’s Boston Museum where The Drunkard has just completed playing an unprecedented 101 performances. The play is now off to Philadelphia and New York and plays regularly at Barnum’s American Museum.
I have two of the actors with me now.Thank you for joining me. You play Edward, don’t you? Edward is the drunk in the play?
Yes, I play Edward. Edward was once a prosperous man but takes to drinking and ruins his life. He is eventually reformed, though, and redeemed—saved from the liquor.
And that’s the moral of the story?
Yes, essentially The Drunkard is a moral reform melodrama. This form of theater is popular right now in America and all the plays follow the same formula.
Americans love the idea that a reformer can step in and save them from their own worst devices. In this case, the abuse of alcohol.
Speaking of saviors, you [pulling in other interviewee] play the part of Edward’s benefactor and savior, Mr. Rencelaw.
Yes, I do. Edward is a fallen man, and when he is at his worst moment, I step in and help him find his way.
There’s this one scene where Edward wants to know why you are helping him . . .
Yes, Edward asks if I will give him brandy and then says . . .
I say: “Who are you that takes an interest in an unhappy vagabond--neither my father nor my brother?”
Right and then I respond with: “I am a friend to the unfortunate. You are a man, and if a man, a brother.”
And that’s why Americans have flocked to see The Drunkard. Many Americans have become interested in and involved in the Temperance movement and plays like The Drunkard allow viewers to explore the complicated issues of moral reform second-hand. If you want to read this scene from The Drunkard, click on our link to the transcript.
Thank you for tuning in to this report.