170 YEARS AGO (1848)
Don Antonio F. Coronel opens a theatre in his home in Los Angeles. The theatre occupies a purpose-built addition to the house, including a covered stage with a proscenium arch, although the roof does not cover the audience. Coronel’s theatre will see paid professional productions in English and Spanish, and Coronel will go on to serve as L.A.’s mayor.
165 YEARS AGO (1853)
George C. Howard’s company transfers its production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly from the Troy Museum in New York state’s Capital Region to the National Theatre in New York City. While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel is the best selling book of the 19th century (after the Bible), theatrical adaptations will reach three times as many people in the U.S. as the original text does.
140 YEARS AGO (1878)
Legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp and Jim Masterson (whose brother Bat Masterson is another famous gunfighter) attend a performance at the Comique Theater in Leadville, Colo. During the show, shots are fired through the theatre’s walls, which Earp and Masterson believe are intended for them. Eddie Foy, the theatre’s lead actor and a friend of Earp and Masterson, will later recount that this was not an uncommon occurrence in Leadville, and that, after the commotion dies down, the actors resumed their performance as planned.
100 YEARS AGO (1918)
Performance company Cuadro Novel appears for the first time at the Hidalgo, an up-and-coming theatre in Los Angeles. The troupe’s performances of Spanish zarzuelas and revistas skyrocket the Hidalgo to success, so much so that ticket prices at the Hidalgo are increased to 75 cents for an orchestra seat. Within the year Novel will open its own rival theatre.
45 YEARS AGO (1973)
Smoky Mountain Passion Play, adapted from the New Testament by Robert Temple, receives its premiere. The production opens a new amphitheatre near Townsend, Tenn., a couple of miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
25 YEARS AGO (1993)
Tim Dang becomes artistic director of L.A.’s East West Players, replacing Nobu McCarthy. Dang’s first season, dubbed a “Season of Women,” will open with 29 1/2 Dreams, Women Walking Through Walls, a musical montage conceived and developed by the theatre’s outgoing and incoming artistic directors. Under Dang’s leadership the organization will grow in both size and diversity as Dang reaches out to the city’s many Asian American communities. In five years the company will relocate to a new theatre space, the former Union Church in Little Tokyo, and from there will lead new-play development and actor training for Asian American theatre.