125 YEARS AGO (1894)
George Bernard Shaw makes his professional U.S. debut with the Broadway staging of Arms and the Man at the Herald Square Theatre. The production’s New York Times review says it will displease “those who object to having satire and irony forced upon them, buzzed at them, flashed at them, thrust in to their mental cuticle with needle points of wit, hammered upon them for two hours and a half.”
115 YEARS AGO (1904)
Julian Eltinge, a female impersonator from Newtonville, Mass., makes his Main Stem debut in the musical comedy Mr. Wix of Wickham. In his vaudeville days, the actor toured using only the name “Eltinge,” leaving his gender ambiguous. He takes pleasure in performing a gender reveal at the end of his song-and-dance act by taking off his wig to a shocked audience.
75 YEARS AGO (1944)
Playwright Arthur Richman, a former president of the Society of American Dramatists and Composers, dies at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Among his nine plays that ran on the Great White Way between 1920 and 1935 was The Awful Truth (1922), which served as the source material for two films of the same name, the 1925 silent drama featuring Agnes Ayres and the 1937 screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
50 YEARS AGO (1969)
El Teatro Campesino opens an evening of four Spanish-language actos in Los Angeles at the Inner City Cultural Center. The program includes Los Vendidos (The Sellouts) and The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa. The company, which was founded on the picket lines of the Delano Grape Strike in 1965, will become one of the leading groups in the Chicano theatre movement.
45 YEARS AGO (1974)
After founding Dell’Arte International in Berkeley, Calif., in 1971 to introduce U.S. artists to European physical performance training, then relocating to Blue Lake in ’72 with their young children, Carlo Mazzone-Clementi and Jane Hill buy the Oddfellows Hall, the rural northern California city’s largest building. There they will launch the Dell’Arte School in 1975 and the Dell’Arte Company in ’76, followed by their first show, The Loon’s Rage, in 1977.
40 YEARS GO (1979)
The seeds of play development center Chicago Dramatists are planted. Meade Palidofsky brings together playwrights to hear performers read their work out loud, which turns into a weekly Saturday Series, composed of play readings and conversations with the attendees. From 1986 to 2015 Russ Tutterow will serve as artistic director, and from 1998 to 2016 Chicago Dramatists will stage 38 world premieres, 16 of them directed by Tutterow.