TINTYPES at Eastern Michigan University Theatre

Director’s Notes

Tintypes, a musical revue, celebrates American culture and history during the turn of the 20th Century. Among the key historical figures in this revue are Teddy Roosevelt, Emma Goldman, Anna Held and Bert Williams. The story of European immigrants who entered America through Ellis Island is also a key component. Popular entertainment from this period includes vaudeville, minstrelsy, popular music, ragtime and the cakewalk dance.

Much of this history and culture has been taught in secondary schools and at universities. However, Tintypes includes, buried under the surface, contributions made to American culture and history by African Americans, history and culture that was often overlooked by American educational institutions. This production brings those contributions to the surface through characters like the 10th Calvary who joined Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill, and through Bert Williams, a blackface vaudevillian performer. For example, several of the songs were written by or for Bert Williams, and some were written by Williams and his partner, George Walker. Additionally, the works of other African American composers and lyricist/librettists such as Scott Joplin, James Reese Europe, Bob Cole and James Weldon Johnson are included.

As a representation of the diversity of American culture, from European immigrants to African American contributions, Tintypes further highlights political campaigns, rich versus poor, factory and sweat shop workers, inventions, and the silent film era. Join us as we celebrate the known history and culture from this period, as well as the contributions that have been generally unsung.

Wallace Bridges
Director, Tintypes


Bridges Web Services includes information and links to web sites about Black Theatre, Education, Arts and Photography. The Black Theatre page includes links to African American theatre companies in the United States, an online course in African American theatre, and current theatre productions.