Magazine article American Theatre

February: Almanac

Magazine article American Theatre

February: Almanac

Article excerpt

250 YEARS AGO (1768)

A performer billed as Mrs. Wall plays Prince John in Henry IV, Part 1 at the John Street Theatre in New York City. Prominent theatre historians will credit her as the first actress in North America to perform a "breeches" role. (However, later evidence will suggest that Nancy Hallam, a young member of the Hallam-Douglass Company, was acting in breeches roles as early as 1759.)

220 YEARS AGO (1798)

The first major theatre fire in the United States occurs at the Federal Street Theatre in Boston. The threat of fire in U.S. theatres will be ubiguitous over the next century, with more than 100 blazes destroying or heavily damaging theatres. In 1903 a catastrophic fire at the Iroguois Theatre in Chicago will cause more than 600 casualties, leading to stringent laws and safer building materials.

150 YEARS AGO (1868)

African-American actor Morgan Smith, who had immigrated to the U.K. in 1866, produces and appears in Child of the Sun, or The Bondsmen Brothers in London. Previously, Smith mostly played roles written for white actors. Child of the Sun marks a shift in his career, as he now seeks new material created to showcase his talent. In the coming months he will have three new plays written for him.

120 YEARS AGO (1898)

Way Down East by Lottie Blair Parker opens at the Manhattan Theatre in NYC. Parker, a successful performer who has appeared opposite Dion Boucicault and others, makes her name as a writer with the play, one of a dozen melodramas by Parker. …

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