Edwin Forrest's Redding Up

Matthew Rebhorn

in Pioneer Performances

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199751303
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932559 | DOI:
Edwin Forrest's Redding Up

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This chapter begins telling an alternative story of the theater by exploring the actor Edwin Forrest's “redding up” in 1829 when playing the title role in John Augustus Stone's Metamora, or, The Last of the Wampanoags, which recounts the story of the Indian chief who fought the British in what is called King Philip's War (16751676). Unlike the broad-brushstroke categorization of the Indian play as a tool of Manifest Destiny that critics have advanced, this chapter discovers the foundational role that Forrest played in crystallizing the transgressive genealogy of the frontier, which he articulated, in this instance, as “savage” passion and social formlessness. He implicitly opposed this to the sterile reason and social policing inherent in what Jay Fliegelman has called the European “elocution revolution,” which attempted to codify the rules of rhetoric in the early nineteenth century. Forrest's “savage” performative practices were strategically accessed by Native Americans when the play was put on in Boston, Massachusetts, and Augusta, Georgia. Their rescripting of these practices demonstrates how this idea of the frontier could be redeployed both to bolster and disrupt hegemonic Anglo-American culture.

Keywords: elocution; redding up; indian plays; indian; grammar; edwin forrest; metamora; race

Chapter.  10601 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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