Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Old Globe Theatre

Showtime in Cleveland: The Rise of a Regional Theater Center by John Vacha has a section on the Old Globe Theatre exhibit at the Great Lakes Exposition. There were approximately 30 actors employed for $15 a week, presenting six to eight of these performances (which ran 30 minutes to an hour) every day.

The repertoire included Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Henry VIII.

Henry VIII? WTF?

Reports suggest it was hard going early in the season, pulling in tiny audiences but by the end of the summer they were playing for hundreds of exposition visitors.

Now here's the weird thing ... I found an Old Globe facsimile playbill as I was cleaning my desk last month, and I have completely forgotten where I got it, I do not know if I printed it online, if someone dropped it off for me, or what, I simply cannot remember. But it does include a list of the company for some of the shows and I would like to follow-up on as many names as I can.

There are two stand-outs in the ensemble, from an historical perspective, including Arthur Kennedy, who went on to originate the role of Biff in Death of a Salesman and was also in the original production of The Crucible. David Wayne also went onto greater success in Broadway productions of Finian's Rainbow and Mr. Roberts.

And then there's young Sam Wanamaker, who at the age of seventeen played mostly "spearcarriers" even in these abbreviated productions. He would later act and direct in films, become a target of HUAC, and most notably establish Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

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