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Don Wilmeth on:
immigrants attending theater

Don Wilmeth I think immigrants going to certain kinds of entertainment made a great deal of sense. It was a way for them to get to know the new culture. It was a part of their acculturation process. It was part of them integrating literally themselves into a new society. They would go to variety theaters, and later Vaudeville theaters, to see ethnic comics make fun of them. That actually made them feel pretty good, even though they were the butt of the humor. A lot of variety entertainment required no language. Language was not a major issue. And I think that that’s the reason they tended to gravitate to entertainment. I think it was a way to fantasize. It was a way tto escape briefly what was a pretty tedious existence, out of the tenements into a glamorous theatrical setting.

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