Date(s) - 11/09/2013
The Thousand Oaks High School Department of Theatre presents one of the most popular melodrama’s of the 19th century W.H.Smith’s The Drunkard or The Fallen Saved. The full title is The Drunkard or The Fallen Saved, A Moral Domestic Drama In Five Acts was originally commissioned by the showman extraordinaire P.T. Barnum. The Drunkard was adopted by the Temperance movement as an accurate portrayal of the evils of “daemon rum.” To quote the preface by the author: “No unprejudiced person will attempt to deny that it was the cause of much good, and materially aided the Temperance movement it was meant to advocate. In the representation it was a powerful and living picture, and all that saw it, felt it, for IT WAS TRUE. No one who had not seen it would feel inclined, from the mere reading, to believe the very powerful effect produced.”
Our hero Edward Middleton, through the evil machinations of the villain Lawyer Cribbs, is introduced to “drink” and is ruined to the point of suicide, when he is rescued by the noble philanthropist Arden Rancelaw, and is restored to his long suffering wife and child. The Drunkard was probably America’s most successful play before Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Thousand Oaks production uses Smith’s complete original script that was used to open P.T Barnum’s AmericanMuseum in 1850. In order to recreate the 19th century theatrical experience, the production incorporates music of the period presented in a series of Olios that are interspersed between scenes. We hope that like the 1850 production our efforts will produce this effect. “( In the scenes of ) those depicting the distress of the family, it was no uncommon thing to see scores of men and women in the audience weeping like children, while at the next moment their faces would radiate with smiles at the quaint humor of Bill Dowton, or the pompous peculiarities of Miss Spindle.”