The Playhouse SA Ragtime Field Guide

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  • A Tool for Teachers, Students, Performers, Designers &

    Advocates of Live Theatre

    Guide Compiled by Directed by

    Christina Casella & Michele Brinkley, M.Ed Molly Cox

    Field Guide

  • To the Educators, Students, Actors, Directors, Designers and any Art Advocate that may find themselves exploring this

    Field Guide:

    Welcome to The Playhouse San Antonio Ragtime Field Guide!

    Here at The Playhouse San Antonio our mission is to produce high quality live theatre that inspires, educates, and

    entertains audiences of all ages. Our passion is to connect our community to the world at large by telling stories that

    reveal the truth of the human experience.

    In the spirit of this mission, we offer our audiences the opportunity to continue their experience at the theatre by providing

    events and interactive resources like this Field Guide. Its purpose can function in many waysin the classroom, as a

    series of activities, a resource to artists, and a behind the scenes glance into this amazing, venturesome production.

    Our goal with this production is to educate and inform our audiences and to encourage a positive change relating to these

    themes in both the San Antonio community and the surrounding areas, while still providing a level of entertainment and

    expression through the art of live theatre.

    We suggest exploring the guide both before and after attending The Playhouse production of Ragtime running Fridays

    and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm from July 25, 2013 to August 18, 2013.

    Our Education Night Sunday, July 28, 2013, includes a Post Show Discussion and Talk Back. We encourage those

    attending to apply the knowledge and information gained from this Field Guide to stimulate and inspire the evenings


    Additional credit to this guide is due to Ragtime director, Molly Cox. The historical background information was originally

    compiled by Molly. Thank you for your dedication to educating both your cast and audience.

    Thank you and Enjoy!

  • What is Ragtime? Backround Info Ragtime is a musical genre which enjoyed its peak between 1897 and


    It is syncopated or ragged in rhythm and played mostly on the piano.

    The name is thought to be a contraction of the term ragged time, which refers to

    its rhythmically broken up melodies.

    It began as dance music in the red-light districts of African American communities

    in St. Louis and New Orleans.


    The Novel by E.L. Doctorow

    by E.L. Doctorow The musical Ragtime was adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same

    title by E.L. Doctorow.

    Written in 1975, Doctorow illustrated the lives of

    three completely different families in 1906.

    Prior to the 1998 musical,

    the novel was also adapted to film in 1981.

  • TWO.

    Life in 1906 US President - Theodore Roosevelt

    US Vice President - Charles W. Fairbanks

    The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadnt been admitted

    into the Union yet.

    The average life expectancy was 47 years old.

    Only 14% of homes had a bathtub. Most women only

    washed their hair once a month, using borax or

    egg yolks for shampoo.

    Only 8% of homes had a telephone.

    More than 95% of all births took place at home.

    2 out of every 10 adults couldnt read or write.

    Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.

    The average wage was 22 cents per hour.

    The average worker made between $200 and $400 per month.

    Accountant = $2,000

    Dentist = $2,500

    Veterinarian = $1,500

    Mechanical Engineer = $5,000

  • tHREE.

    Historical Figures in Ragtime

    Photo by Dwayne Green

    Harry Houdini played by rick sanchez Did you learn any magic tricks preparing for this character? If not, what research did you


    I did not learn any of the Houdinis extravagant illusionist tricks because of the scale of our

    production. We are using props to represent those illusions - straight jacket, chains, rope

    all symbolizing the idea of immigrants the making the great escape from their original

    countries to America. However, I did learn the illusion of pulling a coin from someones ear.

    What has been most exciting about playing a real person?

    The most exciting part about playing a real person, especially for someone like Houdini is to

    give the illusion of him and represent his story as much possible, but not necessarily be him,

    because, it is an impossibility to ever BE him. But as much as possible I will do my best to

    be a great illusion of him and what he stands for as a fabulous immigrant.

    Emma goldman played by Rebecca Trinidad

    Considering her strong beliefs is there anything about Emma that you can relate to?

    One of the quotes that I identify with most is If I cant dance, I dont want to be part of

    your revolution. She believed that we are all entitled to live our lives on our own terms.

    She was not willing to compromise her principles to fit in with the template of the times.

    Her battles are the same battles that we are still fighting today. Her strength has inspired

    me to get involved and make a difference.

    Photo by Dwayne Green

    Evelyn Nesbit played by sara brookes

    How has it been playing a real person?

    Interesting, you have to take the character and be honest

    to the actual person, and you also have to make them

    yours and unique.

    How much research did you do for this role and what?

    A lot of internet research and I have also read her

    biography. Its been a trip!

    Photo by Dwayne Green

  • Book by Terrence McNally Music by Stephen Flaherty Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

    Called by Time Magazine "A triumph for the stage," and by the International Herald Tribune "the best musical in twenty years," this acclaimed musical won 1998 Tony Awards for Best Score, Book and Orchestrations, and won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score.

    RAGTIME is not only a powerful portrait of life in turn-of-the-century America, but a relevant tale for today. Written by the award-winning composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens(ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, SEUSSICAL and LUCKY STIFF), noted playwright Terrence McNally, (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, MASTER CLASS), and based on E.L. Doctorow's distinguished novel, the musical intertwines the stories of three extraordinary families, as they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America.

    The Tony-winning score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is just as diverse as the melting pot of America itself. It draws upon many musical styles from the ragtime rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley to the klezmer of the Lower East Side, from bold brass band marches to delicate waltzes, from up-tempo banjo tunes to period parlor songs and expansive anthems.

    Featured are such show stopping songs as "Getting Ready Rag," "Your Daddys Son," "Wheels of a Dream," "Till We Reach That Day," "Back To Before," and "Make Them Hear You." This thrilling musical is sure to inspire actors and audiences alike!


    Ragtime The Musical

    Synopsis Provided by MTI

  • five.

    Empire theatre Ragtime experienced a unique situation from the very beginning. Unfortunately, our beloved Russell Hill

    Rogers stage here at The Playhouse San Antonio experienced damage from a flood in May 2013. This

    damage mainly effected our roof and made the space unsafe for the cast and crew to work and perform in.

    Only a week and a half prior to opening, we picked up and moved the production to the beautiful, historic

    Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.

    Built in 1913 on the site of the former Risches Opera House (Turner Opera House) in downtown

    San Antonio and designed by architects Mauran and Russell & Crow of St. Louis., theEmpire first

    operated as a vaudeville house, then a silent and talking motion picture theatre.

    After closing its doors in 1978, it was redeveloped as a part of the Majestic Theatre, funded by Las

    Casas Foundation, a local non-profit organization. The venue was reopened in April 1998 as

    Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.

    Seats 856 in banquet, cabaret, and theatre styles!

    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Home to a variety of performances including intimate music concerts, comedy attractions, and

    childrens theatre. Private uses include banquets, seminars, product launches, and weddings.

    Operated by ACE Theatrical Group as a self-sustaining performing arts facility.

    The aluminum and gold leafing that give the theatre its luster were used in the early 1900's

    because they were very inexpensive. Today 23 carat gold leafing is only available in Europe and

    costs approximately $39 a roll.

    Twenty-four different colors of paint, primarily autumn tones, are used throughout the theatre.

    The copper eagle that originally graced the theatre entrance was found stored in a ladies restroom

    when the restoration began. Layers of paint and years of dirt were removed and the eagle soars

    again triumphantly over the theatre entry.

    The 60 foot high, 4-story building has a plethora of reflective surfaces and remarkable acoustics. A