The Theatre Essay Research Paper Introduction

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The Theatre Essay, Research Paper Introduction The main reason why I chose to do my report on the history of theatre in NY is because I find theatre very interesting (As you know I do some of it myself). I also grew up in a house full of theatre teachers. I think this topic is very important to people who want to learn about theatre because many people believe that theatre in New York started on Broadway, but that is not true at all. In this report I would like to show you how theatre developed in New York. Chapter 1 18th Century In the early eighteenth century the Dutch occupied most of New York. Other cultures included the Germans, Scots, Irish and probably the most important to theatre in all, the English. The English started to urbanize New York. Signs of the increasing

urbanizing were mostly seen between 1730 and 1770.English schoolmasters started teaching with Dutch colleagues in schools. Later on in 1747 Columbia College was founded and a campus was established. The college taught musical instruction and people could purchase instruments at the local merchant. When holidays took place people would have entertainers preform in their gardens. People would also hold parties in taverns like Robert Todd?s and Black Horse. These entertainers included puppeteers, acrobats, rope dancers and magicians. At Todd?s public house, the first public concerts took place as early as 1736. The presence of the royal governor changed peoples? social activities. Every governor tried to make his own miniature court (all were trying to imitate the English royal

court). In England, the theatre had been an extension of the court, so many governors tried to make theatre part of their court. In 1699 Richard Hunter petitioned for theaters in New York against Governor John Nafan, and won. Other than that nowhere is it recorded that he ever produced any plays but, it contributed to social life. A few years later Anthony Aston recorded that he spent the winter of 1703 ?Acting, writing, courting, and fighting.?1 No other appearances of theatrical companies were ever noted but, it is assumed there was amateur acting going on in courtyards. -3- Several decades later another governor named William Cosby seemed to have been linked to the appearance of two theatres in the city. A theatre was opened on December 11, 1752 in a building owned by Van Dam

on Nassau Street . This is not that important, although a small population of 8,622 (census taken in 1730) was there to support the theatre. Even more amazing was that there was a second theatre in the city at the same time. This was probably a playhouse on Broadway. Beside the existence of these two theatres, nothing else important is known about their activities. By the late 1740s controls on theatrical companies in England had tightened. Therefore , many companies began to move to the Americas. There is some evidence that several of these companies performed in the theatre on Nassau Street. In 1758 former actor David Douglass brought his company to NY and built a playhouse on Cruger?s Wharf. He built his second theatre in 1761 further north on Chapel (later Beekman) street.

Douglass built his final theatre in 1767 on John St. just west of Broadway. This third theatre was Douglass’ only successful theatre and had almost no competition until 1797 when a theatre company from Philadelphia took over a circus amphitheatre. -4- Chapter 2 19th Century When the people returned to New York after the Revolutionary War in 1785, New Yorkers were happy to see a theatre still standing after the occupation and destruction of much of the city. New York made such a bounce back that people who had lived there before the war barely recognized it. If the first half of the 19th century was extraordinarily full of expansion of the city, there was also great expansion of the theatre. At the turn of the century there was only one playhouse, but by mid-century there were