225 YEARS AGO (1795)
The Triumphs of Love; or, Happy Reconciliation by John Murdock premieres at the New Theatre in Philadelphia. The piece, based on contemporary Quaker debates over the issue of slavery and considered one of the earliest expressions of abolitionism, is the first recorded example of a Black character on a U.S. stage (though played by a white actor) and the first play in United States history to depict the emancipation of an enslaved person.
200 YEARS AGO (1820)
The Park Theatre, located at 21-25 Park Row in Manhattan, suffers its first fire. A few days later performances of the show then running, Adelbert, the Polish Exile, will resume at the Anthony Street Theatre, which will serve as the company’s home until the following summer, when it is demolished. The 1821-22 season will be performed at the newly rebuilt Park Theatre. Under the management of Stephen Price and Edmund Simpson, the Park Theatre is the birthplace of the “star system,” attracting upper-class patrons with well-known actors from England.
60 YEARS AGO (1960)
Tyrone Guthrie announces plans for a theatre in Minneapolis, aiming to build a company of national relevance far away from New York City. After a national call, Guthrie and co-founders Oliver Rea and future TCG executive director Peter Zeisler select Minneapolis in part due to support from the University of Minnesota. The Guthrie Theater will open three years later, a milestone in the nonprofit resident theatre movement.
50 YEARS AGO (1970)
Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., expecting traffic issues due to a protest of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia, cancels a matinee performance of Strindberg’s The Dance of Death. Viveca Lindfors and Rip Torn, who appear in the production, use their time off to participate in the demonstration.