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August 31, 2016

Shakespeare on the Stage

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The earliest performance of a Shakespeare play on campus that the University Archives could document was Love’s Labour’s Lost, given by the Dramatic Club of the College for Women on January 19 and 20, 1898. The Dramatic Club also performed Twelfth Night in 1910 and The Taming of the Shrew in 1915.

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The Dramatic Club was organized in 1894 originally as The Dramatic Association. The club presented at least 1 play each year, and, until 1902, performed in Guilford House. In 1922 the Dramatic Club changed its name to The Curtain Players. They continued to periodically perform Shakespeare, such as The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet. They presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Sock and Buskin Club of Adelbert College as part of the University’s Centennial in 1926.

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The Sock and Buskin Club dates to 1908 when the Literary Society of Adelbert College presented a play, Rivals, by Sheridan. The cast then organized Sock and Buskin to present at least 1 play a year, similar to the Dramatic Club. Beginning in 1923, Sock and Buskin began offering more than 1 play. The Archives could not document an earlier presentation of a Shakespeare play (by Sock and Buskin) than the 1926 performance previously mentioned.

There was no theater-related department at WRU during this late 19th and early 20th century time period. The first Dramatic Arts Department was established at the Graduate School in 1931. Barclay Leathem was the first chair of the department. He had originally taught in the English Department (while a Law School student) and moved to the Speech Department in 1927 to teach the first theater classes. He retired in 1971 when he was named Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Arts.

The home of the Theater Department eventually became Eldred Hall. As part of the 50th anniversary of theater in Eldred in 1973-1974, As You Like It was performed.

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1955 program for A Midsummer Night's Dream and 1974 program for As You Like It

See our previous blog posts related to Shakespeare on campus: Shakespeare beginnings on campus, and Shakespeare Performance as part of WRU’s Centennial Celebration.

Posted by hxy2 at August 31, 2016 02:41 PM

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