- This event has passed.
Sharon Ammen Reading, Book Signing and Performance for her book “May Irwin”
September 11 @ 7:30 am - 8:30 pm
at McNally Robinson @ Grant Park
Wednesday Sep 11 2019 7:30 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park in the Travel Alcove
Discussing May Irwin: Singing, Shouting, and the Shadow of Minstrelsy (University of Illinois Press). Co-presented by the Prairie Vaudeville Radio Show on CJNU 93.7 FM Nostalgia Radio. Reception and book signing to follow.
May Irwin, born in Whitby, Ontario in 1862, reigned as America’s queen of comedy and song from the 1880s through the 1920s. A genuine pop culture phenomenon, Irwin conquered the legitimate stage, composed song lyrics, and parlayed her celebrity into success as a cookbook author, suffragette, and real estate mogul. Sharon Ammen’s in-depth study traces Irwin’s hurly-burly life. Irwin gained fame when, layering aspects of minstrelsy over ragtime, she popularized a racist “Negro song” genre. Ammen examines this forgotten music, the society it both reflected and entertained, and the ways white and black audiences received Irwin’s performances. Irwin’s act, soaked in racist song and humor, built a fortune she never relinquished. Yet her career’s legacy led to a posthumous obscurity as the nation that once adored her evolved.
Dr. Sharon Ammen, Professor emeritus of Saint Mary-of the-Woods College, has been researching May Irwin off and on for 25 years. Her early career included many years as a professional stage performer—in roles ranging from Ruth in Pirates of Penzance at Harlequin Theatre in Washington DC to Maria in Twelfth Night at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Sharon received an acting diploma from the Drama Studio in London in 1986. She describes herself as a half-breed who loves scholarship and performance equally. Sharon lives just outside of Chicago with her husband of 44 years. Click Here to go to the event page!