The now uniquely American art form Iron Springs purveys is actually rooted in the 16th-century Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte — comedies with stock characters, exaggerated acting, skeletal plots — and morals that are spelled out in their subtitles. These implausible tales, with their necessarily happy endings, first spread through America on Mississippi River gambling boats. Nomadic troupes then took them to Western mining camps, where their broad acting styles more than made up for the many language barriers.
"You didn't have to be particularly well-read to follow a plot," said Littrell.
The advent of silent films and TV sparked a resurgence in the popularity of melodramas that lasted for most of the 20th century, each passing year further establishing it as a now uniquely American and unchanging art form.
"Melodrama is the Shakespeare of the American West," Littrell said. "For many people, the stories and the good, clean fun, never grow old."
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Snidley Whiplash Faces Off Against 3-D?
The Denver Post has an article the art of melodrama that still has a following in the West: