In How the Other Half Laughs Corbin is stressed his mourn of the Teatro Italiano and the loss of the wonderful performances and experiences it provided to its audience. He valued the Teatro Italiano and what it gave to its audiences when commented on the audience members whom were absolutely drawn into the entire experience of what this particular theatre presented. Whatever the emotion the actors were portraying reflected directly onto the audience. If there was heartbreak on the stage, there was raw emotion being felt on the other side of the theatre. If there was a battle scene, audiences became vocal and filled with excitement. Corbin illustrated to his audience that this was not just a theatre. This was a place where Italian families came together, from grandmothers to infants, joining together on Sundays. He describes the Teatro Italiano as if it could be potentially compared to be someone’s church to individuals based on how people valued and attended this theatre religiously.
As the years past, less Italians attended to the Teatro Italiano. One day, the Teatro Italiano became simply another American theatre. Corbin claims that the obvious reason why the Teatro Italiano met its fate because the Italian immigrants came to America were mostly from the countryside of Italy. This particular wave of immigrants did not come to the United States to comfortably settle. Most of these immigrants wanted to earn and save as much money as they could, and return back to Italy and continue to live there. This was not the case for every single Italian immigrant at the time. Some openly accepted as America as their new home. What comes with acceptance of living new and completely different world is the abandonment of one’s origins and traditions. As time progressed, new generations were born and raised by the new Americanized customs. As new generations continue to arise, people grow on the Americanized taste and step away from their ancestral origins. Corbin reflected back to a similar death of the cultural custom of the French theatre. Similarly how Italian theatres disappeared like the Teatro Italiano, the French theatre slowly diminished little by little until one day it was completely taken over by American plays.
As difficult as it was to experience what was described to something absolutely beautiful and remarkable, Corbin did come to the conclusion that he understood the cultural shift that was constantly occurring in the United States. People initially made the decision to leave their homeland for various reasons, mostly for a new and fresh start. He commented that Americans do not have the desire to live simply and happily as one should. This demonstrates his attitude toward the shift of customs with a negative connotation, but with the acknowledgement of other opinions.
I believe that history will repeat itself and theatrical productions of other immigrant groups will share the same fate as the French and Italian theatres. As Corbin explained in How the Other Half Laughs, as the new generations from immigrant families grow and progress, there is a trend in the abandonment of the individual’s native customs and values. Newer generations typically do not speak the language their ancestors came from. Corbin mentioned even in the theatre, a wholesome piece from the Italian’s culture, people mainly spoke English to each other. I believe it will not only theatre productions that will slowly diminish, it will be other businesses from immigrant groups as well. In the United States, we live in a world of capitalism and consumerism, and large companies cast shadows over small businesses.
Based on personal experience, my grandparents who were immigrants from Germany, opened a delicatessen in Orange County. Delicatessens originated from Germany, and my grandparents were successful with sharing and selling their culture in the United States. My mother told me most of their customers were either immigrants from Germany or the new generation of German-Americans. My grandparents decided to retire and they sold their business to a family friend, and over time that friend had no choice but to close the shop because newer generations came about and people were no longer interested in spending their money at the delicatessen and would rather purchase all of their products from one convenient store. I personally agree with Corbin and his values of knowing where you come from; however and unfortunately, it is rather difficult to compete and survive small productions in modern times.
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