95 YEARS AGO (1924)
Paul Robeson appears in the world premiere of All God’s Chillun’ Got Wings, O’Neill’s controversial and groundbreaking work about interracial marriage, at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City. Robeson plays the Black husband, and the character’s white wife is portrayed by Mary Blair. The play, though presented downtown, is considered the company’s Broadway debut, and the staging marks Robeson’s third Main Stem production and the actor’s first “starring” credit.
50 YEARS AGO (1969)
Charles Gordone’s No Place to Be Somebody opens Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater and runs there through December, for a total of 250 performances. Later that month the play will open on Broadway for a short run. (It will receive a brief revival in 1971.) No Place to Be Somebody will go on to win the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making Gordone the honor’s first Black recipient.
35 YEARS AGO (1984)
Goodman Theatre in Chicago finishes its run of the U.S. premiere of The Road, written and directed by Nigerian dramatist Wole Soyinka. This mounting of Soyinka’s 1963 piece is Soyinka’s second time working at the Windy City institution, having directed his play Death and the King’s Horseman there in 1979. Two years after the Goodman’s staging of The Road, Soyinka will receive the Nobel Prize for literature.
25 YEARS AGO (1994)
The Woman Warrior, written by Deborah Rogin and based on Maxine Hong Kingston’s 1976 book about growing up the daughter of Chinese immigrants in California, receives its world premiere at the Golden State’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Within the year the production, helmed by Sharon Ott, will have runs in Boston at the Huntington Theatre Company and in Los Angeles at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.
10 YEARS AGO (2009)
Farmers Alley Theatre, formed by two of Kalamazoo, Mich.’s legacy theatre families, begins wrapping up its inaugural season. The shows at the theatre’s 221 Farmers Alley location in downtown Kalamazoo are Marvin’s Room by Scott McPherson in May and Betsy Kelso and David Nehls’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical in June. A decade later, all four of the company’s founders will hold their current roles: executive director Adam Weiner, artistic director Jeremy Koch, educational director Denene Mulay Koch, and deputy director Robert Weiner.