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112Southwestern Hutorical QuarterlyJuly Leavin' a Testimony is not a history book, per se, because it lacks the requisite context and analysis, and it could have benefited from the use of maps, an index, and some definition of terms not readily understood by those unfamiliar with farm life, such as "bust middles," used in reference to plowing (p. g8). It nevertheless provides historical perspectives from those who have lived in and fashioned the communities under study. In that sense, it provides elements of oral history, folklore, sociology, cultural anthropology, and even gossip. And, of course, there are the photographs that, in a powerful way, capture both the art and the cultural landscape of rural life in the state. The distinct contrasts of the black-and-white photographs are, in a sense, reflected in the text as well, as such delineations are clearly part of the social fabric. The book succeeds at several levels in presenting a portrait ofa distinct Texas region, and for those seeking to immerse themselves in a focused community study it is worth the investment of time and place. Texas Hutorical CommissionDan K. Utley Renegades, Showmen, and Angeh: A Theatrical History ofFort Worthfrom 1873-2001. ByJan L.Jones. (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2006. Pp. 376. Illustrations, acknowledgments, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0875653 1 89. $35.00, cloth.) Writing to appeal to academics as well as to a popular audience,JanJones has provided a handsome volume that chronicles the evolution of the performing arts in Fort Worth, Texas, from the 1870s to the present. Her work is lucid, thorough, and well grounded in research, primarily memoirs and newspapers. Jones shows that the railroad introduced professional entertainment to Fort Worth in 1876. The arrival of thespians, though initially reluctant to enter Texas, where the myth oframpantviolence gave troupes pause, slowly displaced courthouse dramas and a frontier culture of saloons and brothels as upper- and middle-class residents proclaimed themselves part of a modern city. Growing communication and transportation networks allowed for the creation of entertainment syndicates by the mid-i 880s, most importandy for Fort Worth the circuit organized by Henry Greenwall, who brought top-name performers to the city. Architecture, as Jones skillfully demonstrates through the numerous photographs complementing the text, reflected the effort to civilize Fort Worth as ornate theaters and opera houses appeared. Arts buildings and elaborate performances contributed to boosters' goal of keeping the city out ofDallas's cultural shadow, as when Fort Worthians in 188g constructed the short-lived Spring Palace decorated with Texas agricultural products . Boosters intended the structure to become a "cultural mecca for the city and the entire region" (p. 75). In ig36, the Casa Mañana, which housed an elaborate show produced by Billy Rose, supplied a "larger-than-life attraction" meant to undercut the Texas Centennial Celebration hosted by Dallas (p. 155) .Jones examines in detail the impact on Fort Worth entertainment venues of such national trends as the decline ofvaudeville in the face of movie houses during the ig20s and the emergence of university and community theaters after World War II. 2007Book Reviews113 The primary weakness ofthe book, however, is its lack ofstrong argumentation. Fort Worth regularly hosted famous performers, including Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, and Sally Rand, thereby tying the city to a national entertainment market and, thus, to a national urban culture. Explications of how Fort Worth reflects key shifts within American or regional culture are obscured however by the tight focus on local events. The sheer number of community performers recounted byJones dulls the text for readers not familiarwith local acting pedigrees. Further explanation of why particular plays reached the stage when they did and why Fort Worthians ignored or embraced those performances would strengthen the significance of this study by using performance as a mirror of community values. WhileJones accomplishes this in regard to the Casa Mañana by identifying the extravaganza as part of boosters' "publicity tactics," the closing chapters offer little in the way of similar analysis (p. 162). For instance, the success of the Hip PocketTheater in the late 1 970s, which "defied any conventional designation" and operated on the "fringes of Fort Worth's theatrical establishment...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 112-113
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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