175 YEARS AGO (1838)
American actor John Wilkes Booth is born. Son of actor Junius Brutus Booth, and brother to actors Junius Brutus Jr. and Edwin, John Wilkes will make his New York acting debut in Shakespeare’s Richard III. Killed by investigators after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he will live on as an infamous historical figure and a character in the musical Assassins.
100 YEARS AGO (1913)
Three hikers stumble upon a natural amphitheatre on Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley, Calif. One of those hikers, Garnet Holme, will direct plays at that amphitheatre from 1913 to 1926, going on to become a director at the University of California–Berkeley. Known for transporting audiences, sets and props using a railway gravity car—aka “the crookedest railroad in the world”—this hiker’s dream-scene will become known as the Mountain Play Association, and its stage the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre.
50 YEARS AGO (1963)
The Twin Cities answer British director Tyrone Guthrie’s call to start a U.S. resident theatre. The Guthrie Theater opens its doors on May 7, welcoming audiences with a production of Hamlet. The Guthrie will eventually win the 1982 Regional Theatre Tony Award with artistic director Liviu Ciulei at the helm. Its second home, designed by Jean Nouvel and opened in 2006, will be named one of GQ magazine’s 10 most important buildings of the 21st century.