The Southwark Theatre was a recent arrival in Philadelphia when Jacob and Catherine Durang landed in the city in 1767. It had been preceded by a rather make-shift theatre created in Plumsted’s warehouse, near the Philadelphia docks, in 1749, which was probably used when the small, and possibly semi-professional, Murray and Kean Company performed in […]
The Philadelphia Stage and Beyond
Review an exerpt for each page below and select the title of the article of interest.
During and after the American Revolution, another war was waged on American soil—for or against “vain sports and pastime” such as theatre and dance. As scholar Kenneth Silverman put it, “Of the four major kinds of artistic activity [painting, music, literature, and theatre] in the North American colonies, the professional theatre was the least developed and […]
From April to June 1784, and then again from December to July 1785, the Southwark was home to the American Company, now called, since their return from Jamaica during the Revolutionary War, the “Old” American Company. George Washington and other leaders of society attended the shows, although theatrical performances were still illegal in the city. […]
The circus began in America with such elements as animal acts at fairs or taverns, the figure of Clown in harlequinades, and the showy maneuvers of military horsemen. While equestrian trick riders such as Mr. Foulkes, Jacob Bates, and Thomas Poole preceded him, it was John Bill Ricketts who brought the first full circus experience […]
With his circus career at an end, Durang turned to Thomas Wignell, manager of the Chestnut Street Theatre. Wignell, a fine British comedian who had performed with the Old American Company at the same time that Durang had, became an independent manager early in 1792. Wignell, with Philadelphia composer and musician Alexander Reinagle, envisioned a […]
Click here to download a complete listing of John Durang’s summer repertory! Soon after he joined the Chestnut Street company, Durang accepted summer employment with a Mr. Broomly and an unnamed wire dancer in Lancaster (c. 1801). Durang experienced the heavy labor of touring, which he had known with Ricketts on the Canadian adventure. Again, […]