The stages of antebellum New Orleans did more than entertain. In the city’s early years, French-speaking residents used the theatre to assert their political, economic, and cultural sovereignty in the face of growing Anglo-American dominance. Beyond local stages, the francophone struggle for cultural survival connected people and places in the early United States, across the American hemisphere, and in the Atlantic world.

Moving from France to the Caribbean to the American continent, Creole Drama follows the people that created and sustained French theatre culture in New Orleans from its inception in 1792 until the beginning of the Civil War. Juliane Braun draws on the neglected archive of francophone drama native to Louisiana, as well as a range of documents from both sides of the Atlantic, to explore the ways in which theatre and drama shaped debates about ethnic identity and transnational belonging in the city. Francophone identity united citizens of different social and racial backgrounds, and debates about political representation, slavery, and territorial expansion often played out on stage.

Recognizing theatres as sites of cultural exchange that could cross oceans and borders, Creole Drama offers not only a detailed history of francophone theatre in New Orleans but also an account of the surprising ways in which multilingualism and early transnational networks helped create the American nation.

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