Yup. Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko, was actually born on this day–August 24, 1857. It was on this day that the Panic of 1857 began. And like all other financial collapses, it was the result of unrestrained greed, over-speculation, and corrupt financial practices. And like all other financial collapses, the common people were the ones most devastated. Theatre, of course, was not immune to the panic and as usual found ways to fight its way out of the morass. But in this instance, in 1857, the American theatre found a new way out–and hence Gordon Gekko was born.
Yeah, I’m being a bit coy here, because I’m currently under contract to write a book about this very subject. So I’d rather not reveal too much right now. But it’s worth noting that the Panic of 1857 changed at least one important way that Americans looked at theatre and used the stage to address the corruption and devastation that unbridled capitalism can inflict. And while this change was not acknowledged at the time, it clearly originated in the immediate aftermath of the Panic of 1857 that began in earnest on this very day–August 24, 1857.