AMERICAN THEATER | This Month in Theater History (August 2016)

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DeLanna Studi at the World Premiere of “Te Ata” at Oklahoma University of Science and Arts in 2006. (Courtesy of JudyLee Oliva)

195 YEARS AGO (1821)
The African Grove Theater, also known as the African Company, is first referenced on paper. The New York City group, an all-black troupe created by William Brown, is arguably the first theater company made up of exclusively American artists. they will present Richard III in September and will be the first to present Othello with a black actor in the title role.

165 YEARS AGO (1851)
Comedic actor George Holland and his company, Placide’s Varieties of New Orleans, begin a two-week engagement at Mazourka Hall in St. Paul, Minn. This opening show features Holland as six distinct characters from the farce One day after the fair. Historians will record this as Minnesota’s first professional theatrical performance.

Dion Boucicault.

110 YEARS AGO (1856)
The United States introduces the first copyright protection for playwrights, thanks to the efforts of Irish playwright Dion Boucicault. The legislation gives authors of plays “with the exclusive right to print and publish said composition, the exclusive right to act, perform or perform the same”.

30 YEARS AGO (1986)
The American Institute of Theater Technology publishes DMX512 dimmer protocol standard. The introduction of this protocol marks a watershed moment in computerized lighting technology, as the equipment was often not interchangeable; DMX512 will ensure that all lighting consoles, dimmers and other devices speak the same language.

25 YEARS AGO (1991)
The Treasure House of Dan Kwong, which is said to be the Los Angeles area’s premier Pacific / Asian-American visual and performance festival, offers its first installment at Motorway performance space in Santa Monica, California. This first year of the month-long event involves 30 artists and writers, who present two separate works each week for the duration of the festival.

Rude mecha '
“Pale Idiot” by Rude Mechs.

20 YEARS AGO (1996)
Ensemble theatrical collective Rude mecha is hosting a benefit to help kick off the world premiere of Pale idiot, their inaugural production, which will go up in October. The Austin-based company would borrow techniques from feminist collectives of the 1970s, creating a work in a non-hierarchical collaboration with six co-producing art directors who function as “a cycling team”. Their work will appear in many places in the United States and abroad, including Kentucky’s Louisville Actors Theater, Lincoln Center Theater in New York and Washington, DC Woolly Mammoth Theater Company.

10 YEARS AGO (2006)
Chickasaw Nation Presents World Premiere of JudyLee Oliva Te Ata, would have been the first piece professionally produced by a Native American tribe, to Oklahoma University of Science and the Arts. During the week, members of the public travel from 30 US states to view the play, which is inspired by the life of storyteller Chickasaw Te Ata Fisher.

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