August 1665 (355 years ago)
In what is often considered the first documented staging of an English-language play in North America, Ye Bare and Ye Cubb (“The Bear and the Cub”) is presented at a tavern in the colony of Virginia. One of the piece’s authors, William Darby, will be accused of public wickedness, and he and the cast’s other two actors will be required to recreate the performance in costume before the court. The court apparently likes what it sees: Darby will be found not guilty.
August 1935 (85 years ago)
Hallie Flanagan becomes the first director of the Federal Theatre Project, created as part of the New Deal to address staggering unemployment during the Great Depression. This economic stimulus program will provide support for artists, among other essential workers. Theatre artists employed by the FTP will make $23.86 per week, the equivalent of $450 a week today.
August 1950 (70 years ago)
Arena Stage is founded in Washington, D.C. by Zelda Fichandler and her husband, Tom Fichandler, along with Edward Mangum. They convert the Hippodrome, a former burlesque and movie theatre, into a 247-seat arena-style theatre. A pioneer in the U.S. regional theatre movement, Arena Stage will go on to receive the first Regional Theatre Tony Award and becomes the first regional theatre to transfer a show to Broadway with their 1967 production of The Great White Hope, starring James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.
August 2000 (20 years ago)
Michael Maggio, award-winning stage director and associate artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, dies in Chicago. Maggio also served as a dean at the Theatre School of DePaul University. He had more than 20 directing credits at the Goodman alone. The Chicago theatre community will remember and honor Maggio annually by awarding the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award to “an emerging scenic, costume, lighting, sound, or other media designer in acknowledgement of excellence in artistry and collaboration.” as well as the Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship.
August 2000 (20 years ago)
Bernard L. Peterson Jr., author, director, and professor emeritus of English and drama at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, dies. Peterson wrote several books chronicling African American theatre history, including The African American Theatre Directory, 1816-1960: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Black Theatre Organizations, Companies, Theatres, and Performing Groups.
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