Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly.
A Domestic Drama in Six Acts.
Dramatized by George L. Aiken TO WHICH ARE ADDED A Description of the Costume--Cast of the Characters--Entrances and Exits--Relative Positions of the Performers on the Stage, and the Whole of the Stage Business
AS PERFORMED AT THE PRINCIPAL ENGLISH AND AMERICAN THEATERS.
(New York: Samuel French, )
This was the only one of the many 19th century dramatizations of Uncle Tom's Cabin
that was regularly published. Its availability was undoubtedly one of the reasons the Aiken
script served as the basis for the vast majority of theatrical productions of Stowe's novel until well into
the 20th century, although it's unlikely that any specific production followed this text exactly.|
Certainly this 1858 version differs in some details from the Aiken script used by the Howards in either their original Troy production (1852) or the script they used on opening night at New York's National Theater (1853). For example, we know from AN ARTICLE in the 3 November 1853 National Era that the play's final scene (Act 6, Scene 6 below), described by the Era's correspondent as a tableau "representing Eva in heaven, amid clouds and a halo of glory, welcomed by angelic choirs, and accompanied by Uncle Tom and St. Clare," had just been added; the article suggests one reason for the change may have been to prevent "the abrupt and disorderly departure of a portion of the audience amid [Tom's] death-scene, which characterized the finale heretofore." It also seems likely that the comic business about P. T. Barnum in Act IV was added after the American Museum began running its own version of Uncle Tom's Cabin in competition with the Howard company's. After the Civil War G. C. Howard himself kept "perfecting" Aiken's text with the kinds of changes that led directly to the "Tom Show" -- see 1869 AIKEN and 1876 AIKEN.
But while it underwent a constant process of adaptation and revision, this play that George Aiken wrote for $40 and a gold watch remains the most frequently produced American drama ever written.
From the beginning the play was a "melodrama" -- literally, a play with music, or, as an 1853 playbill for the production puts it, a play "beautifully interspersed with singing and dancing." G. C. Howard wrote four of the songs, adding new ones as the play extended its New York run. French's published text omits the songs (except for the verses from spirituals that Tom sings in Act III), but the interpolated links below will bring up pages on which you can both read and play them all.
French's text includes a Cast of Characters that identifies many of the actors who played in five different major productions of Aiken's version of Uncle Tom's Cabin between 1852 and 1858.
SONG: Oh, I'se So Wicked
SONG: The Wings of the Morning
SONG: A World of Spirits Bright
SONG: Eva to Her Papa
SONG: St. Clare to Little Eva in Heaven
SONG: The Old Folks at Home
SONG: Uncle Tom's Religion