thumbnail of America on stage; "The Poor of New York"by Dion Boucicault
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Do you do you know do you see them frequently found under a black coat than under a red. The poor man is the clerk with a family forced to maintain a decent clothes for out of the hunger of his children. The poor man is the artist or Bloods to pawn the tools of his trade to buy medicine for the sick wife. The lawyer for employment buttons up his thin jacket to hide shirtless. These needy wretches are poorer than the poor for they must conceal their poverty with the mask of content smoking a cigar to disguise their hunger. They drag from their pockets their last quarter to cast it with studied carelessness to the beggar whose mattress at home is lined with gold. These are the most miserable of the poor. The poor of New York a new play opens at Wallach's theater and an
old Phantom stalks the streets outside. Or this is New York City in 1857 and panic riots and starvation. The news of the hour. Each night the misery of the people deepens and each night those who still have the price of a ticket flocked to the likes theatre to see the poor of New York on the stage. There are. Programs seven of America on stay the character of a newsroom as seen through its theater. America on stage is produced by the Wisconsin state broadcasting service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational
broadcasters consultant for the series is Jonathan W. curve and professor of speech at the University of Wisconsin and a specialist in the American theater. Here to introduce the program Professor curve and yes 1857 was an alarming year for Americans in October the foundations of the country's financial structure threatened a crack. And it appeared that the whole delicate structure might be brought down in ruins. Banks failed needles and factories closed. Prices zoom down business was at a virtual standstill. The panic was on. Suffering was widespread. New York City alone could count over 100000 unemployed arbors weekly spoke of grave and the Babri henchmen of prostration and despair. Many could recall a similar catastrophe of 20 years before the panic of 1837 and the recollection was hardly consoling. But by December the crisis was over. New Yorkers began to take hold.
And even again to take an interest in going to the theater. Then if the solvent New Yorker fancied up to the minute drama he could not have found one more timely than Diane booth goes the poor of New York. A remarkable example of State journalism that was based on history scarcely a month old. These are the streets of New York the heart of the city the countless doorways beneath endless rooftops the windy pavements that sicko writes about in his place. This is Union Square New York City November 1857. Here at the shops the saloon hotels and the theatres including Wallach's they enter those places the people scurry by faces pinched in the wind. I respect French German and Italian beggar boys in rags scrape the gutters or a last penny gentleman in Bieber's buy tickets for the opera at the
Academy of Music. Everyone's in a hurry jobbery. You got the cable get up I got it just wait a minute. Well GET A MOVE ON THIS means of course charity gets me in the chair. Oh no I like come on time. Come on. Understand the search these places these other places go seize take in the sounds and the smells in the wind. Put your question to the people of Union Square like this shopkeeper. Just like enough I only want to ask a question in closing for rent. Only question you know a man named you know not the police just a man on the street you from the bailiff you to relate to just look at the whole like you know rock star can barrow. I got to put up the shutters now and go home. I'm not from the police or a bill collector either I thought you might know Diane.
His name's on the theatre billboard across the street two months ago nice business. I guess they don't know when or start away product of new dining room furniture two weeks later the painting. Today I got nothing. Nothing in years our new Union Square and I get no good in my heart. Mr. Phil your packing. Take a chilled out of there when Mr. Thank you sir. Sir I beg your pardon. You're addressing me. If you'll permit one question please. Are you familiar with the name Diane. Why bless me yes I know that everybody does something happen to him No not at all I never reverse his misfortunes even the best people have the benefit club not the two Sickles a member of the club of course. Irishman actor fellow nominee in the Footlights naturally for the first time in London's Covent Garden. Damn fine if I get the name of the play but I laughed at my side and his wife. By Jove she's the most beautiful woman on the
stage or are you seen his new play here in New York. Can't say I have haven't been to the theatre since business affairs take me out of town you know. I see when they clear up yes an evening at the theatre would be very pleasant. When things clear up. Do you know do you know the Prince of Wales. You wouldn't have a match now would your government can find a match for Mr. Guy. Don't think I do sorry no match. I can let you have the price of a cup of coffee. Do I look like a beggar. Nothing because I am an actor. An experienced actor. Waiting for the right to come along. Then you must know what do I not know about. I can tell you riches fortune the plaudits of the laughing cruelly ruthless hype ocracy Prince or devil. You
hate him. Perhaps he rubs the lamp and see there is a new play a what if the scene remark resets and then nothing like it on another. We all remember the laugh and there it is again this time an actor. Of the stage and its creator you have a match for my security Mr Boussingault can find a part for you in his new play. You're quite and I will tell you about a lining and a dinner party for drinking all of the guests bought me flowers. What sort of flowers and the lady laughed and said You my dear are the deadly night shade the guests of
the party drank champagne. You were there another time another time someone an actor in his company said. When you get to Haiti five minutes after you're dead you and call will be fighting for the center of the state. He meant it but he never worked for Boosie going and never never never again can you remember more don't ask me ask them. There's a proud dad who's never won a pardon Mr. you know Mr. Bush the go the man on the poster. He's wonderful. I saw Mr. child close to him so handsome I mean before his first wife fell off a cliff in Switzerland. Maybe she was pushed. It's true I've been trying to get tickets to this place for over a week now. But confound it if I go home without that my wife plays a huge success and it's
original it's remarkable for Mr. Worthing What do you mean you imply that he's a plagiarist. That's John Breaux from here in London assurance. Well a pretty plagiarist Mind you a princely one like six pair. He steals everything he can lay his hands on. Pick up a pebble on the shore and how much you get into Would you I believe I recognize you swear on to Charles read the novel inside out for me. Not yet but he's a brilliant thinker knows more about the stage than all the other playwrights put together. Honest any good news tonight please. Not in the street and out of town. That's good news good news for Diane. That's why I wrote this play and made such a success so we could see on the horrors of the headlines the poorer the tenements the only man who gets money from the poor in New York. Let's look at the place the people of New York onstage. There is
the villain blood good. He's a banker on Nassau Street. 4 percent. I use this I need to but last I showed my fortune 20 years ago this very month very day I stood in yonder bank. I really. Should never forget that I said Nice compris carried out the body few captain and I never passed. That's from my new forts. What good the banker the villain who has let the sea captains family starve he has also spoiled his selfish daughter a leader. Father can hear what you say. I'm writing a letter which I wish you to sign a letter to
Mr. nothings. MARGARET I know you will not say anything of the car and why should I want to make a patch by the one who is a gentleman of an oh you probably like Livingstone. I want his good name in position you see the thing is cheap. And who is Mike Livingstone the new broken heir of a good family. Eight o'clock in the morning. For the last hour I have been hovering around Chatham Street. I wanted to sell my overcoat to a prime broker but I could not enter his den. Here I realize my plight. Three months ago I stood here the fashionable Martha Livingstone owner of the water which yacht one of the original stockholders in the Academy of Music had not. Burst out. 4. had reduced to a breakfast of this.
Livingstone's True love is Lucy daughter of the sea captain whom Bloodgood robbed Lucy has lost her job at the milliner's shop. Night falls as she creeps into Union Square. Oh and could I see some. Yes I would ask so that Sir pardon me would you. What is it what is this what do you want right. Just turn to the right and keep straight on you have not the courage to bear and Lucy's brother Paulo weak from hunger tries to earn an honest penny at the entrance to a hotel. Help you serve this country the river house. Come on quick. Yes so glad to have it. I turn very well. God help me. I have
not tasted bread for two days. Oh god you have refused me the strength to earn my food. Give me the resignation to bear your will and POA and Lucy's mother the sea captains widow to feed her children. She would give her wedding ring to the baker if you was to take my ring and said I. Oh and it drove me from the shop to what they're like. A mystery. Yes well the form might show you how these people suffer past hope past. Tears down the depths of despair Diane booth sicko drags them writing of how the poor escape their misery in the tournaments of New York. No I'm alone. The fumes of the charcoal will soon as they say it is an easy day. Let me sleep the
long sleep. Where there are no more tears no more suffering. I will go on. Home at last despair hastened my steps. Now my children are gone. I will give them all I have left my and I. When I am gone they will have one less to care for. But that must stop up the cracks in the windows and the door to keep the fresh air from entering in the chalk. You see you are your mother my child what is that. Why are you. The coal gas films and you why are you sealing up the room like me you wish to die. No no my darling shall not you your young
life is before you. Oh man I have no happiness. The mark will soon we had another all rich lady. Who could restore his fortune. Why do you do your is George mine child. Better to die dolls than by grieving already my sense of failure and losing my child. No no no let us die together as often as I have NEVER DO YOU WOULD YOU. Let us lose we own mother both judge and they haven't won you. God bless my dear brother. And. You my beloved Mark.
You make your. Mom. Mother open the door. For. The door mother. Too late too late. They have committed suicide quick Livingston the fumes break the window predicts the way they live. We'll get them to the fresh air. 0 0 0 I don't like to say only for you would I take money from Bloodgood marry his daughter if necessary to give you the things you need to speak to me Lucy. It is your devoted Mark who called you.
And on the other side of the thin wall that divides the tenement apartments. Tom Badger lives those lovable rascal who shares blood goods crime and now hopes to blackmail the banker. He has the paper is that could prove the crime and restore to Lucy's family the fortune of the sea captain. But the charcoal fumes are seeping through the wall. How hot it is here. I cannot breathe. Have I drunk too much. Since I. Like a drink it doesn't touch a bottle. Let me let me try my legs a bit. I wish to do it. I can't see it. My head spins run. Oh god I'm kidding. Am I going to die. I like that don't you. But good will come in the papers.
Robert the sea captain. There is this Lord but have the strength to put up the board and write the paper. Give me hair before but good comes in. You must not try to help who I heard smothered cry for help. Who's in this. Are you here you Deborah. I wonder where she is really drunk. Good you can plot good for her and her new rule. Look both of you. This man suffocated. You really miss him. Well in the spirit
there were the 20 20 years ago that that bad robbed your dead father of. A hundred thousand dollars romped large ferns. I've got the proof. Save your fuel so I did. And Badger falls back unconscious in the Goes climax to act 4 of his play but the playwright is not yet finished. Oh no I had Lisey's most famous scene the sensation of the play the spectacular kind of stage effect for which he is famous. He opens the curtain on cross street. We see the tenement houses in the light of the Moon Bloodgood has bought the building searched for the papers but found nothing. Now he will destroy them by setting fire to the whole house. We stare at the dark windows of the tenement. A faint light is seen behind the
shutters at the upper floor. A flame rises flickers out rises again. The light is seen to descend as if someone is carrying a candle down the staircase. The door opens slowly on to the street. Blood good appears out to be sure he is not seen. Closes the door locks it. In hours or cursor guards Rubi the papers are here. For sure they will be no more back through you are worse. You cannot blackmail me. Dylan disappears the house begins to blink. The alarm is raised bells ringing for the volunteers. People rush into the street. We
see good old Badger push through the crowd. He tries the door seizes an iron bar smashes the window disappears into the flaming building. Someone tries to follow and turns back again. Black unburned staggers into the crowd overcome. Now the shutters on the garret fall and we see Badger in the upper floor. The walls are giving way. The floor is larger with work. The shutters are drawn you know and we see the inside of the house by the time that Roger drags and fell from the ruins across the sill of the window. People rush from the crowd to rescue in his hand. Are the papers the papers to punish and restore the weather's good fortune. And finally amidst all this blaming her Diane who draws the curtain. The poor of New
York. And I was there while listening to America on stage the seventh program in a series designed to explore American history through the theater of the times. Here again is our consultant for the series. Professor Jonathan curving. The Irish born Diane booth goal was something of a genius in his way and he exerted no little influence on a 19th century American drama and theater. Coming to New York in 1853 he immediately opened his bag of theatrical tricks and proceeded to dazzle American audiences. It seemed this Booster Gold could do anything. He wrote plays some 400 of
them with almost incredible speed. He directed them ingeniously and often acted their leading roles with accomplished skill as sensitive as a public opinion poll to current aquariums. He devised sensational means of capturing the attention as well as the dollars of the adored his was a talent for exactly guessing what the public wanted and he seldom guessed wrong. He proved especially right when he guessed that American theatre audiences wanted to be thrilled by spectacular effects. By elaborate stage pictures and other kind of physical action there was in time to become the trademark of the movies. No wonder his plays were among the first to be adapted by early movie writers by insisting upon pictorial effects. Bruce goes that some knotty problem with her stage designers and mechanics. How for example to make credible the explosion of a steamer floating in the middle of a river to convey a pursuit sequence with characters moving on split second timing from one scene to
another in a play requiring as many as 15 completely different stage settings. How to show characters diving into the sea and swimming in order revealed to interior rooms at the same time. How to bring a railroad train on and off the stage out of picture city traffic convincingly or a boat race or an avalanche of snow. Well these are but a few of booths goes demands. In plays that depended for success not upon literary quality but rather upon what we today would call the gimmick. The poor of New York is a gimmick play adapted from a French drama its melodramatic plot is a thing of patches and manufactured coincidences. Its characters are pasteboard but the gimmick the typical Boussingault gimmick made up for the shortcomings it was as go into it would be an exciting experience for audiences to see current events translated into staged terms and familiar landmarks reproduced in the stage
settings and above all a thrill to the gimmick of the tenement fire onstage. This they found to be overpoweringly real die and go to not write plays for posterity. Instead he wrote solely to entertain popular audiences of his own day. The 50 Cent audience is he call them a few men of the theatre have ever been able to predict more accurately than he what the public wanted and that is why the booty call melodrama for all its gimmicks can instruct us about the tides of taste in America 100 years ago. The text of a play that probably needs no introduction and serves America on stage for his next programme of the series. Namely that undisputed champion of popular American drama Uncle Tom's Cabin. They are they are.
Programmed some American produced and recorded by the Wisconsin state broadcasting service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. The programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters consulting for the series is Jonathan W. curve I'm professor of speech at the University of Wisconsin. Heard in the cast were cliff Roberts and Marcus Thom Grunewald Dom to teen Nancy Gilmore and cow nosed music composed and conducted by Darren vaguely script by Helen Stanley a production by Karl Schmidt. They are there. This is the end he be radio network.
America on stage
"The Poor of New York"by Dion Boucicault
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-j09w500x).
Episode Description
This program presents a radio play of The Poor of New York by Dion Boucicault (1857).
Series Description
Selected American plays written prior to 1900. Each is an expression of contemporary popular sentiments. Radio adaptations of theatre performances, using selected excerpts.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Actor: Roberts, Cliff
Actor: Gruenwald, Tom
Actor: Gilmour, Nancy
Actor: Marcus, Ed
Host: Kerwin, Jonathan W.
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
Writer: Boucicault, Dion, 1820-1890
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-6-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “America on stage; "The Poor of New York"by Dion Boucicault,” 1963-10-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “America on stage; "The Poor of New York"by Dion Boucicault.” 1963-10-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: America on stage; "The Poor of New York"by Dion Boucicault. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from