185 YEARS AGO (1832)
A History of the American Theatre From Its Origins to 1832, the first book of its kind, is published by J. & J. Harper. Critics in the Albion and New York Mirror praise the author, William Dunlap, for his “knowledge on the early history of the American stage” and intimate acquaintance with the subject plus “all the great actors, authors, and critics of his day.”
135 YEARS AGO (1882)
The Daily Evening Bulletin of Maysville, Ky., writes that “the great Western celebrity” Buffalo Bill will make a stop at the town’s opera house as part of an Appalachian tour. The Bulletin will later write of his appearance: “The play was of the dime novel order, with the usual amount of blood shed, hair breadth escapes, and harrowing situations.”
105 YEARS AGO (1912)
On Halloween night in the silver-mining town of Leadville, Colo., the Iris Theatre hosts hypnotist J.P. Caruthers, who places a young boy into a trance. Alarmed audiences plead with Caruthers to release his subject, but he refuses, saying he will lift the trance at his show the next day. The conflict escalates until the mayor orders Caruthers’s arrest until the trance is lifted.
80 YEARS AGO (1937)
Congressional cuts force the Federal Dance Project to merge with the Federal Theatre Project. The FDP had been created in early 1936, a year after the FTP, at the urging of choreographer Helen Tamiris, whose signature works include a suite of dances called Negro Spirituals. After the merger, Tamiris will serve as FTP’s principal choreographer until Congress disbands the project in 1939.
55 YEARS AGO (1962)
With the Broadway bow of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Billy Rose Theatre, featuring Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill in the leads, Edward Albee becomes the first playwright since Eugene O’Neill to successfully move from Off-Broadway to Broadway. The production will score Albee his first Best Play Tony, and its success will allow him to create the Edward F. Albee Foundation.
45 YEARS AGO (1972)
Indiana Repertory Theatre opens its first season with a staging of Charley’s Aunt, directed by Edward Stern, at the Athenaeum Theatre. The company will remain at the Athenaeum for eight seasons, eventually making a move to the Indiana Theatre in 1980. IRT will go on to become among the nation’s most respected regional theatres, producing both classical work and new plays.
35 YEARS AGO (1982)
The first production of the Huntington Theatre Company, Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day, directed by Toby Robertson, opens at the Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre. The first season also includes The Dining Room, Translations, Time and the Conways, and The Taming of the Shrew. The Huntington will go on to become a nationally renowned theatre, nabbing the Regional Tony in 2013.
10 YEARS AGO (2007)
Migdalia Cruz’s Dreams of Home is produced by Monarch Theater Company in New York City. The press calls it “a funny, dark, and touching play” full of “honest, exposing monologues and passionate scenes.” The piece is one of 30-plus plays written by the Bronx-born Cruz, who teaches playwriting and guest lectures at many institutions across the country.