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April 09, 2012

Early Relationships between CWRU and the Cleveland Play House

CWRU established a joint degree program with the Cleveland Play House in 1931 when the Administrative Board of the Graduate School of Western Reserve University at a meeting on 5/11 approved a trial year for graduate work in Drama and the Theatre to begin in the Fall of 1931. As described in the 1931/32 Catalog, “The distinctive feature of this program of graduate study is the cooperation of a theatre and a university. The unusual opportunity to receive instruction from the director and members of the staff of the Cleveland Play House assures emphasis upon practical experience. To this is linked a study of the drama in its historical, critical, and cultural aspects as literature.” Barclay Leathem (WRU faculty member), Frederick McConnell (director of the Play House), and Arthur White (WRU faculty member) had presented the proposal for the graduate program. From 1927 until this time, Cleveland College of WRU had offered 1 undergraduate course, Play-Production, for 2 credit hours. Instruction had been given by Mr. Leathem and members of the Play House staff.

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Earliest extant brochure of joint program with Cleveland Play House

In addition to the curriculum, the two institutions shared personnel and spaces for productions. Cleveland Play House assistant director K. Elmo Lowe directed the WRU student production of The Cassilis Engagement as part of the Western Reserve University Centennial celebration in 1926. The WRU Adelbert College Sock and Buskin Club produced the Somerset Maugham play, The Sacred Flame, on campus in 1930 and at the Cleveland Play House during the 1934/35 season.

In an interesting twist, the Play House produced the Joseph Remenyi play, 30 Jefferson Arcade, in 1918 – nine years before Remenyi became a faculty member of WRU. Remenyi (1891-1956), novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright, was a faculty member in Comparative Literature 1927 until his death in 1956.

Posted by hxy2 at April 9, 2012 03:26 PM

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