A New Narrative on Live Performance in Classical Era Movie Theaters – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

A New Narrative on Live Performance in Classical Era Movie Theaters

Megan Lehman


Pronouns: she/her/hers

Research Mentor(s): Vincent Longo, Research Associate II / Doctoral Candidate
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Film, Television, and Media, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 1
Presenter: 1

Event Link


Live vaudeville performance that played alongside film showings was an affordable and popular form of entertainment for many Americans prior to the 1930’s. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, many sources put forward the narrative that companies gave up on vaudeville and live performances and never looked back. Our team’s research suggests that this narrative is not the case as we look at evidence relating to the perspective of theater managers, company executives, and other influential individuals in relation to the continuation and production of vaudeville in the 1930’s. We have examined articles from entertainment magazines from this time period and have built upon a database cataloging many live acts and performances using Variety show bills from the early 1930’s. Our research, so far, suggests that rather than vaudeville and live performance coming to an abrupt and definitive end, it would continue to fall and re-emerge several times throughout the 1930’s and beyond. Our research concerning the uncertainty and wavering popularity of vaudeville and live performance provides us with more insight into the motivations and nature of the entertainment industry during this time period, especially considering the economic state of the United States during the Great Depression.

Authors: Megan Lehman
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

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