American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

By Weldon B. Durham | Go to book overview
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Spring 1913: The Switchboard, Fear, Fancy Free, Any Night, Food: A Tragedy of the Future.

1913-14: Felice, A Pair of White Goves, En Deshabille, The Black Mask, The Bride, Hari-Kari, Russia, Ib and Little Christina, The Neglected Lady, The Hard Man, The Kiss in the Dark, The Fountain, It Can Be Done.

1914-15: Phipps, The Forest of Happy Dreams, The Cat and the Cherub, The Gaol, Little Face, The Denial, The Fog, Nettie, Across the Border.


Published Sources:

Indiana Speech Journal, September 1980.

New York Dramatic Mirror, 1913-15.

New York Times, 1913-15.

Archival Resources:

New York, New York. New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theatre Collection. Programs and photographs.

Thomas L. Hellie

PRINCESS STOCK COMPANY. The Princess Stock Company began operation in Des Moines, Iowa, in late 1909. After quickly building the Princess Theatre, Benjamin F. Elbert and John A. Getchell premiered Channing Pollock Clothes on November 1, 1909. Elbert and Getchell founded and guided the Princess Theatre and its stock company through most of its nineteen seasons. Their careful planning, research, and financing paved the way for financial and artistic success. Getchell and Elbert left nothing to guesswork or improvisation about their investment. To confirm their speculation about the potential Des Moines theatre market, they conducted an experiment. In the 1906-7 season, they presented a season of one-act plays between motion pictures in their Nickeldome. After experiencing great success, Elbert traveled the Midwest and East to study theatres, actors, and stock companies. The partners then gathered capital to build a theatre and hire a staff of artists for the 1909 season.

On July 20, 1909, construction started at Fourth Street between Locust and Walnut streets. The Princess Theatre was commodious, functional, and durable. Built at a cost of $75,000 in 1909, it seated 1,700 with clear sightlines to its proscenium stage. Its design and construction manifested the managers's concern for fire safety, for the backstage floor remained the only section of the entire building constructed of wood. Also the building featured nineteen exits, steel grid and fly systems, an asbestos curtain, and sophisticated ventilation. While the actors shared the luxury of sixteen dressing rooms, the audience enjoyed one of the first air-conditioned (air was blown over ice blocks) theatres in the United States.

Getchell assumed responsibility for all financial duties of the company. He managed to hold ticket prices down, yet he always supplied the funds Elbert


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American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930
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