The professional American theatre, like its British counterpart, has never been entirely free from legal restraint. For hundreds of years and for many reasons, the American government, like that of Great Britain, has exercised its police powers by passing statutes to control the theatre. Theatrical persons and property, moreover, have been subject to the principles of common law, as framed by immemorial custom and interpreted by the courts. The scope and nature of statutory and common-law American theatrical regulation are revealed in the three parts of this book. "A Conspectus of American Theatrical Legislation" details the relationship between English and American theatrical statutes and provides a chronological overview of the development of theatrical licenses, taxes, copyrights, contracts, "blue" laws, the employment of minors, and safety regulations from colonial times until 1900. This essay also explores the legal rights and responsibilities of theatre owners, lessees, managers, playwrights, actors, and audiences.
"A Compendium of Theatrical Cases" gives summaries of Anglo-American cases that set precedents in theatrical statutes of the American states, territories, and federal government. An introduction to the book provides context as well as definitions of legal terms that appear throughout, and there is an extensive index of names, subjects, and cases.