Monday, March 12, 2007

Beginings of American Theater

Where did commercial theater begin in the US? The NYtimes has an article on exactly that - I thought it was interesting and thought I'd point it out to you. Actually, I'd love to find out where theater originated in the mid Hudson valley - unfortunately so far my research has not turned up anything promising ...

From the nytimes:

"The quiet, tree-lined boulevards of this reconstructed colonial town may seem an unusual setting for an international conference on the origins of the American commercial theater. But to the people at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the location makes perfect sense.

“This is it,” exclaimed Jim Bradley, public affairs manager for Colonial Williamsburg, gesturing at the dirt road dotted with tourists and school groups. “This is where American theater began.”

The occasion for the conference — “The Williamsburg Playhouse of 1760 and the World of 18th-Century Theater,” set for Thursday through Saturday — is the completion of a 10-year excavation of one of the first commercial theaters in America. While not the oldest (that distinction belongs to a playhouse erected in Williamsburg in 1716), the theater was among the most important of the colonial era, and the most popular. Records exist of an incident in 1772, when George Washington — who frequented the theater, as did Thomas Jefferson — struggled to get box seats to a play called “A Word to the Wise” but had to settle for seats in the pit, even though he had helped to underwrite the playhouse."

1 comment:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Erica - Thanks so much for sharing this story. Had you not posted it, I would have missed it completely. So nice to learn where America's theatrical roots actually were. Kind of makes me want to visit Williamsburg again!

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