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May 17, 2012

Curtain Pullers at Cleveland Play House

The Play House was interested in education at many levels. One program which was extremely successful was The Curtain Pullers.

Originally known as The Children’s Theatre when it was founded in 1933 by Play House actress Esther Mullin, the Curtain Pullers produced plays acted by children for children. Local schools were asked to select their 2 most talented students, aged 5-12, for positions in the Play House School at no cost. From 1936-1940 the Curtain Players grew to 500 children and their productions had an audience of 6,000.

Three productions were presented each season: at Thanksgiving, during the Christmas holidays and in early spring. Many of the productions were from original manuscripts. All the students were eligible for tryouts. There was also a continuing program of creative dramatics. "The Play House feels that the objectives of creative dramatics are to give the child an avenue of self-expression, to offer a controlled emotional outlet, to help build good attitudes and appreciations, to provide opportunities for growth and social cooperation and to help develop the latent imagination of the child. To this end, the youngsters are provided with an atmosphere of freedom, understanding and enthusiasm." (1)

Alumni of the Curtain Pullers include actors Paul Newman and Joel Grey.
Here is Paul Newman at age 11 in a 1936 production of St. George and The Dragon.

This program eventually evolved into the Play House Youth Theatre.

(1) Ruth Fischer, The Cleveland Play House. The Nation's First Professional Resident Theatre Company (October 1963).

Posted by hxy2 at May 17, 2012 02:53 PM

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