End of the Longest Run
The epoch-making run of five years for "Abie's Irish Rose" pales before "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Its run is now ended, after a continuous showing of seventy-seven years. For the first time since 1853 there is now not a single company in the country playing it. The January Theatre Guild Magazine gives a touching story of its past glory, with profuse illustrations from old posters.
The play is closely woven into national history. Launched as propaganda, it later became a classic. Actors grew up in "Uncle Tomming" troupes. Boy or girl, they started out playing the angelic and flaxen-haired Little Eva. After that they did Topsy and later branched off as sex demanded into Eliza, Cassie, Little Eva's Mother or Mr. Marks, Legree, Uncle Tom.
Companies toured the country, playing small towns where even circuses couldn't pay their way. Audiences as well as actors grew up with the piece. Starting on the basis of the dramatization by GEORGE L. AIKEN, the play, like Topsy, "just growed," until it settled into its final shape. Audiences then knew the play so well that they regarded any attempt at improvement on it as sacrilege.
"Uncle Tom" is now only a museum piece, something for fitful revivals. But some of its lines will long outlast it. One of these is the remark of the converted Quaker, as he pushed a kidnapper over a cliff, "Thee isn't wanted here, friend," and another, Uncle Tom's speech, "My body belongs to you, Massa, but my soul belongs to GOD."