History of Italian-American Theater

When Italians first came to New York City, they were all over New York, scattering to parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and areas of lower Manhattan.  Mulberry Street especially became a huge area of Italian culture and immigrants.  That neighborhood has been and is stilled called Little Italy.

Italian immigrants went through so much hate in the early 1900’s.  They lived in tenements and struggled to find jobs, like many other immigrant communities did.  Italians were under attack very much so, though, because of racist theories and anti-immigrant societies.  In the 1920’s they started to find their place in New York City.  They formed clusters in many cities in America, called “Little Italies.”  In these “Little Italies” they formed a community and joined together through entertainment.  One form of entertainment was theater.

When Italian immigrants started pouring into the country in the 1870’s theater was a way for them to express their culture and feelings.  Theater clubs and coffee houses were formed for them to share their creativity to fellow Italians and other cultural groups.  Italian Theater was shown through light comedies, heroic tragedies, dialect plays, vaudeville, and other talents.