The US theater is a thriving community despite its rough past. While it was influenced by British theater, prohibitions and racial shows caused some damage to the theater culture in the country. However, the community sustained over the decades and earned its name as the backbone of urban culture in the US.
Broadway in Manhattan and New York City are synonyms for US theaters. Though many states have their own regional theatrical productions and shows, their final target is to make a name in New York.
During the evolution days of theater, religious colonies in the US looked down upon artists and theaters, even as the first playhouse was built in Virginia in 1716. It was only after independence that the popularity of theaters slowly grew among the masses, and more theaters were established to encourage artists.
But the actual history of theaters in America dates back to the English colonies in 1607. Native American tribes had their own type of theatrical events, and Spanish dramas were performed in the communities that belonged to them.
A theater was built in Virginia in 1716 and another in Charleston (South Carolina) in 1736. However, it wasn’t until 1752 that theaters became successful and popular in the English colonies in the US. Lewis Hallam’s company entered the colonies that year, followed by the man himself and his brother two years later. They performed famous plays like Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, etc.
The Merchant of Venice was the first performance by Lewis Hallam’s company. Religious opposition made them shift to Jamaica sometime in 1754/ 1755. However, they came back to establish the American Company and opened a theater in New York.
The opposition to theater and plays continued in 18th century America. That didn’t stop some writers from creating plays. Most playwrights from this period were European-born, and the plays in America usually came from there.
The Prince of Parthia by Thomas Godfrey (performed at the New York theater owned by Lewis Hallam) in 1767 was the first play written by an American. The Revolutionary Period gave playwrights the fodder to use the socio-political scenario for satirical plays.
William Shakespeare’s plays continued to be performed in the 19th century in America, though new dramatists and playwrights contributed to the list. The African-American community also had a vital role during this period.
If the 19th-century theaters looked majestic with gigantic chandeliers, the modern-day theaters would boast the latest acoustics and advanced technology that enhance the viewers’ experience. Buy tickets to live shows, dance performances, and events hosted in the major theaters across the country.