Skip to main content

Images for Ragtime opening number

Images for Ragtime opening number

As we’ve learned in rehearsal, there’s a lot to tackle in Ragtime’s multi-part numbers. I thought it might be helpful to give you all some portraits of the various groups and sub-groups introduced in the Opening: incoming Immigrants from multiple countries, New Rochelle residents, Harlem and its residents (though I will admit that Harlem photography […]

Character Bio — Harry Houdini

Character Bio — Harry Houdini

He made his mother proud. But for all his achievements, he knew he was only an illusionist. –Houdini, Opening number Ragtime: The Musical. As we discussed in class on Tuesday Feb. 15th, Houdini is one of the many historical characters whose arc is truncated in McNally’s adaptation of Doctorow’s novel. In the musical, Houdini provides […]

Lawrence MA and Union Square

Lawrence MA and Union Square

Tonight we’re staging Scenes 16-17a, the blurred boundaries between Tateh at the textile mill/union square rally/goldman speech/the Lawrence, MA strike/Tateh’s escape from factory labor. In these scenes, time and place are fluid; historical characters give authenticity to events that are both real and fictional. On the scene breakdown I made (the yellow handout) I mentioned […]

Seeing Double–Kohlhaas, Coalhouse, and t

Seeing Double–Kohlhaas, Coalhouse, and the Social Contract

Ragtime’s Coalhouse is heavily based on writer Heinrich Von Kleist‘s short novel, Michael Kohlhaas. The novella is about Kohlhaas’s quest for justice after  an official named Junker Wenzel von Tronka illegally confiscates two of Kohlhaas’s black nags (horses). Similar to Coalhouse’s struggle, Kohlhaas is unable to seek legal redress and is thus forced to take more drastic […]

Corset confinement

Corset confinement

I just wanted to add a follow-up to the idealized fashion images Barbara showed in class of the Edwardian silhouette, which is in vogue for middle and upper-class women from about 1890 to 1909. There was a gasp when she described girls being corseted from the age of 7. At left is an advertisement for […]

Doll’s House and Ragtime

Doll’s House and Ragtime

In last night’s lecture, Professor Dickinson talked about ideals of appearance and behavior that exemplified the Victorian “cult of true womanhood” or “cult of domesticity.” This externally constructed standard, sometimes overtly articulated or subtly implied by religious teachings, public speeches, newspaper stories and the exploding field of marketing and advertisements, held sway over the lives […]

Character bio — Emma Goldman

Character bio — Emma Goldman

When I was in college (back more years than I am going to admit) I had a Women Who Dared calendar (surprise, surprise!). The highlighted figure for the month of January was none other than Emma Goldman and the image was the one at left from the Library of Congress. When Jeff told me about […]

Views of City Life (Tenements, Transport...

Views of City Life (Tenements, Transportation, and Baseball)

All hail YouTube for these terrific collections (drawn from other collections) of New York City life during the time Ragtime is set. 1.YouTube user Ten7d5 created this show from “NYC Dept of Tenement houses, from various Manhattan street scene photographs” and Jacob Riis photos. The show ends with a 1903 Edison “actuality” film titled “Move […]

The WB Frog

The WB Frog

On Tuesday, when Professor Kelley asked “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘ragtime’?” someone mentioned “race” and someone else mentioned “the WB frog.” Upon first hearing, these two references might seem unrelated; however, as I did some digging into the history of “the WB frog,” I find that they are intertwined […]