70 YEARS AGO (1949)
The Junior League of Omaha in Nebraska announces plans to establish an annual play series aimed at young audiences, a project that later calls itself the Omaha Junior Theater. The company’s inaugural play, Tom Sawyer, will premiere the following April, and the organization will go on to develop into the Omaha Theater Company, known locally by the same name as its venue, the Rose Theater.
55 YEARS AGO (1964)
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center opens its doors in Waterford, Conn. The organization will establish programs including the National Playwrights Conference, the National Critics Institute, the National Theater of the Deaf, and the National Puppetry Conference. The O’Neill will go on to receive two Tonys, a special Tony in 1979 and a Regional Theatre prize in 2010.
60 YEARS AGO (1959)
Dallas Theater Center welcomes its first audience with Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and the River, adapted by Eugene McKinney and Paul Baker and directed by Baker. The opening takes place in the Kalita Humphreys Theater, one of the first projects designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to be completed after the architect’s death in April. Tickets for the show cost $2.50. The company will continue to stage work at the theatre several decades later.
45 YEARS AGO (1974)
The City of Denver breaks ground on Denver Performing Arts Complex. The building will go on to become the home of the Colorado Symphony, Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The DCPA Theatre Company will launch on New Year’s Eve 1979 with a trio of shows presented simultaneously: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Moby Dick Rehearsed, and The Learned Ladies.
30 YEARS AGO (1989)
The first annual Day Without Art, organized by Visual AIDS, is held in recognition of people affected by the syndrome on the same day as the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day. Hundreds of visual and performing arts institutions will close for the day, with their staff volunteering for AIDS organizations. Later renamed Day With(out) Art, the project will aim to highlight issues around the AIDS epidemic.
20 YEARS AGO (1999)
August Wilson’s King Hedley II opens Pittsburgh Public Theater’s new space. Over the next two years the play, the eighth of the 10 installments in Wilson’s Century Cycle, will be produced at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, the Mark Taper Forum at L.A.’s Center Theatre Group, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C. before opening on Broadway 2001.