minstrel show

(redirected from Minstrel shows)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

minstrel show,

stage entertainment by white performers made up as blacks. Thomas Dartmouth Rice, who gave (c.1828) the first solo performance in blackface and introduced the song-and-dance act Jim Crow, is called the "father of American minstrelsy." The first public performance of a minstrel show was given in 1843 by the Virginia Minstrels, headed by Daniel Decatur Emmett. Christy's Minstrels (for whom Stephen FosterFoster, Stephen Collins,
1826–64, American songwriter and composer, b. Lawrenceville, Pa. His pioneer family was aware of his talent for music, but not understanding it they provided him with little formal musical education.
..... Click the link for more information.
 wrote some of his most popular songs) appeared in 1846, headed by Edwin P. ChristyChristy, Edwin P.,
1815–62, American showman, b. Philadelphia. He established c.1846 in Buffalo, N.Y., a company of minstrels that came to be known as Christy's Minstrels.
..... Click the link for more information.
. In the first part of the minstrel show the company, in blackface and gaudy costumes, paraded to chairs placed in a semicircle on the stage. The interlocutor then cracked jokes with the end men, and, for a finale, the company passed in review in the "walk around." This part of the minstrel show caricatured the black man, representing him by grotesque stereotypes that were retained in the minds of white American audiences for many decades. In the second part of the show vaudeville or olio (medley) acts were presented. The third or afterpart was a burlesque on a play or an opera. The minstrel show was at its peak from 1850 to 1870 but passed with the coming of vaudeville, motion pictures, and radio.


See C. Wittke, Tambo and Bones: A History of the American Minstrel Stage (1930, repr. 1968).

minstrel show

a theatrical entertainment consisting of songs, dances, comic turns, etc., performed by a troupe of actors wearing black face make-up
References in periodicals archive ?
MAINSTREAM Leslie Crowther and George Chisholm were the stars of TV's Black and White Minstrel Show.
Robert Littell, the critically acclaimed author of The Company and fourteen other novels of espionage and intrigue, called The Last Minstrel Show "a page-turner.
The populist position critiques the minstrel show, claiming that
As black-operated minstrel shows began to be accepted by the black community in the post-Civil War era, this form of entertainment might have helped in the journey toward healing the wounds of racism.
Plantation Bitters has the standard ingredients of what were called 'Darkey Plays', which were performed as the main, dramatic feature of a minstrel show.
The tuner, from the songwriting team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, uses the minstrel show format to retell the true story of a 1931 case of nine young black men falsely accused of assaulting two white women.
The title itself referred to dance-music common in minstrel shows, and Whitburn blacked up to reinforce the connection.
Lee seems to be saying many of the shows on network television starring black entertainers are no better than minstrel shows, and a montage at ``Bamboozled's'' end showing the use of blackface and racial stereotyping in film and movies is stinging.
Their use of black dialect for the stage--largely manipulated and deformed by the white tradition of the minstrel shows and nineteenth-century plantation literature--offered a direct challenge to the dominant view, and as such it was directed to free the language from domination and damnation.
It is an education not unlike the racist minstrel shows, where African Americans were made the butt of jokes and the knowledge of their marginal status was reinforced.
Ever since the minstrel shows, black music has been central to establishing a sense of white unity.
The minstrel shows of the early 19th century are believed by some to be the roots of black theater, but initially they were written by whites, acted by whites in blackface, and performed for white audiences.