UNIVERSITY PLAYERS. See University Players Guild.
UNIVERSITY PLAYERS GUILD. The University Players Guild (Falmouth, later West Falmouth, Massachusetts, and Baltimore, Maryland), also known as the University Players, the University Repertory Theatre, and the Theatre Unit, Inc., was organized in 1928 by Charles Leatherbee and Bretaigne Windust. Its first production, A. A. Milne The Dover Road, opened on July 9, 1928, at the Elizabeth Theatre in Falmouth, Massachusetts. As its early theatre was also a conventional movie house that sat 900, its productions ran Monday and Tuesday evenings, with films being presented Wednesday through Saturday. In 1929 the company built its own theatre in West Falmouth: the Old Silver Beach Theatre had a proscenium stage with orchestra pit, full counterweight system, trapped stage, and a seating capacity of 400. This building remained its permanent base of operations from 1929 to 1932.
This resident summer stock company, later to be also a resident repertory company in Baltimore, Maryland, was unique for several reasons. Essentially, this company provided a training ground for many young, inexperienced actors who had elected to attend college (a requirement to participate in the company) instead of immediately attempting to pursue their professional careers in New York or Hollywood. Henry Fonda, Margaret Sullavan, Joshua Logan, Jimmy Stewart, Mildred Natwick, and Norris Houghton were some of the many University Players who went on to successful theatrical careers in New York and Hollywood. Attempting to expand its horizons, the company established a winter resident repertory company in Baltimore from 1930 to 1932. Here, it met its first professional competition. Two touring companies, Three's a Crowd (with Clifton Webb, Libby Holman, and Fred Allen) and Private Lives (with Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence), as well as productions by the Theatre Guild and the Group Theatre provided strong competition for the young University