I had intended to blog about the Astor Place Riot today, it being the 173rd anniversary of that looney event, when nativist supporters of actor Edwin Forrest did battle in the streets of New York with fans of English thespian William Macready : thousands of them in the brawl, leaving 30 dead and nearly 50 injured. If at first blush it seems particularly insane (and all violence is insane), it must be remembered that live theatre was all there was for entertainment back then, and this clash was really just the match that ignited a much wider, volatile culture war, one that in its way presaged later such explosions in our own time, from the L.A. Riots in 1992…to January 6.
I’ll save my own in-depth exploration of this event for a later date, as I’m still getting over an illness. And as very good luck would have it, I can pass you off to the very capable hands of my colleague, Ralph Lewis, Bowery Booster and vital third of the conscientious triumvirate known as Peculiar Works Project. Today at 5:30pm (EST), Ralph and PWP are presenting this amazing sounding program about the Astor Place Riot through the New York Adventure Club. It sounds like its going to be amazingly thorough, it’s only $10 and its streaming online. Highly recommended! More on the event is here.