265 YEARS AGO (1752)
After arriving in Virginia, the Hallam Company performs Othello at the Williamsburg Playhouse. The company rehearses during the summer before its season begins in the fall. The 12 adults and three children that make up the troupe work together to renovate the playhouse. The audience for Othello includes the emperor of the Cherokee nation and his family, as well as other members of the small community.
80 YEARS AGO (1937)
Golden Boy by Clifford Odets makes its Broadway debut, produced by the Group Theatre at the Belasco Theatre. The play tells the story of Joe Bonaparte, an aspiring musician who chooses to become a prize-fighting boxer. The production will have a successful run, both financially and critically, and the work will receive additional Main Stem mountings in 1952 and 2012. After the playwright’s death in 1963, Sammy Davis Jr. will star in a 1964 musical version, also titled Golden Boy, with a book co-credited to Odets and William Gibson, music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Lee Adams.
80 YEARS AGO (1937)
The stage adaptation of the U.S. literary classic Of Mice and Men premieres on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre. Written by the novel’s author, John Steinbeck, and directed by George S. Kaufman, the production will run for 207 performances at the Music Box Theatre. The play will be revived twice on Broadway, including in 2014 at the Longacre Theatre.
70 YEARS AGO (1947)
The Alley Theatre in Houston is founded by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Altfeld and Nina Vance. The company performs its first play, A Sound of Hunting, in a small rented dance studio and nearly sells out. Twenty-two years after the company is founded, the Alley will move to its permanent home in the Houston theatre district. In 1996, the organization will receive the Tony for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
60 YEARS AGO (1957)
At California’s San Quentin State Prison, the Actor’s Workshop of San Francisco presents Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Martin Esslin’s landmark 1961 volume The Theatre of the Absurd will open with a discussion of this historic performance; one inmate in attendance, Rick Cluchey, will go on to found the San Quentin Drama Workshop and become a friend and preeminent interpreter of Beckett.
45 YEARS AGO (1972)
A group of male dancers perform an original comedic ballet titled Sobechanskava Dances at La MaMa in New York City. The piece is developed by original members of the Trockadero Gloxinia Ballet Company, who assembled their own company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The group will go on to perform for television, on Broadway, and tour around the world.
40 YEARS AGO (1977)
The inaugural season of Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, founded by Tisa Chang as the first theatre in the U.S. to focus on the experiences of Asian Americans, includes a presentation of Cao Yu’s Thunderstorm at La MaMa. The piece, a domestic drama written in 1933 and set in Peking in the summer of 1925, was the first major mainland Chinese play to use Western dramatic conventions.
20 YEARS AGO (1997)
San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions, founded by Torange Yeghiazarian the previous year as the first U.S. theatre company to concentrate on the Middle Eastern experience, presents its inaugural production: Operation No Penetration: Lysistrata 97!. Yeghiazarian’s adaptation of the ancient Greek antiwar comedy by Aristophanes depicts Palestinian and Israeli women uniting to bring about peace.
25 YEARS AGO (1992)
Shay Youngblood’s Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery is reviewed with praise in The Washington Post after opening at the Source Theatre in Washington, D.C. Youngblood’s play, which follows a young woman growing up in the South, is adapted from her book The Big Mama Stories. Youngblood will go on to publish several novels and plays, win awards, and become a distinguished professor.