Welcome to the home page for the Theatre History Podcast! You can find information about the show, as well as a list of every one of the episodes we’ve produced so far. Visit our blog for a look behind the scenes at what’s going on with the podcast, as well as occasional essays on theatre history.
Episode 81: “Simultaneously Unhinged and Fantastical in Every Possible Way”: Margaret Hall Introduces Us to the History of Theatrical Merchandise
If you’ve been to a Broadway show, you’ve probably seen the merchandise booth. You may even have bought a t-shirt, or a magnet for your fridge. But where did the Broadway merchandise industry come from? Margaret Hall joins us to talk about her recent Theatermania articles chronicling the rise and development of this unique theatrical industry.
- Read Margaret’s articles on the history of Broadway merchandise and the weird and wonderful items and avid community of collectors that look for them.
- Follow Margaret on Twitter and learn more about her work at her website: https://www.margaret-hall.com/
Episode 80: Rediscovering Lost Plays with Dr. David McInnis
Over half of the plays produced during Shakespeare’s time have since been lost. What can we learn from the little evidence that remains of these plays? Dr. David McInnis joins us to talk about his book Shakespeare and Lost Plays in our latest episode.
- Learn more about David’s book, and be sure to check out our storefront on bookshop.org to find all the books featured on episodes of the podcast.
- Explore the Lost Plays Database to learn about individual examples of lost plays from this time period.
Episode 79: Exploring Nuyorican Feminist Performance with Dr. Patricia Herrera
There are many theatrical movements and institutions that have been marginalized in histories of the American theatre. But there are also individuals and groups who are further marginalized within those movements, such as the role played by women in the development of Nuyorican performance. Dr. Patricia Herrera joins us to talk about these women and her book, Nuyorican Feminist Performance: From the Cafe to Hip Hop Theater.
- Find out more about Dr. Herrera’s book here: https://www.press.umich.edu/6710954/nuyorican_feminist_performance
- You can also find out more about Dr. Karen Jaime’s book, The Queer Nuyorican: Racialized Sexualities and Aesthetics in Loisaida, here: https://nyupress.org/9781479808298/the-queer-nuyorican/
- If you want to watch performances by some of the artists mentioned by Dr. Herrera during this episode, check out these links:
- Sandra Maria Esteves performs “Aguacero”: https://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/11/sandra_maria_esteves_performs_aguacero_at_the_young_lords_40th_anniversary_celebration
- La Bruja performs “For Witch It Stands”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DcozO03epU
- DivaNations performs “Spirit Dance” at the Nuyorican Poets Café: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BdmrqTwKi4
- To learn more about the Nuyorican Poets Café, visit their website: https://www.nuyorican.org/
Episode 78: Peter Schmitz’s Adventures in Theater History
How do we recover and retell the stories of theatrical performance from ages past? That’s a question that Peter Schmitz is exploring with his podcast Adventures in Theater History: Philadelphia, which delves into the theatrical past of one of America’s most important centers of performance.
- Find out more about Adventures in Theater History: Philadelphia at its website: https://www.aithpodcast.com/
- Follow Adventures in Theater History: Philadelphia for fascinating images from Philadelphia’s theatrical history, as well as news about the show: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
Episode 77: Exploring the Imitations of Gertrude Hoffmann with Dr. Sunny Stalter-Pace
We tend to think of originality as a positive attribute, something that makes art and artists stand out, while “imitation” is almost a dirty word. But as Sunny Stalter-Pace’s new biography of Gertrude Hoffmann shows us, imitation can often be its own sort of artistic accomplishment. Hoffmann was a successful dancer and performer who imitated important modernist acts like the Ballets Russes. Sunny joined us to talk about her book, Imitation Artist: Gertrude Hoffmann’s Life in Vaudeville and Dance.
- Learn more about Sunny’s book: https://nupress.northwestern.edu/9780810141919/imitation-artist/
- And buy it from bookshop.org
- Explore the Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Photograph Collection at Wake Forest University: https://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/handle/10339/38811
- Visit Sunny’s website: https://www.sunnystalterpace.com/
Episode 76: Voyage to the Planet of the Grapes with Peter Michael Marino
How do you create theatre in the midst of a global pandemic? Pete Marino discovered one answer to that question when he began looking into the Victorian-era tradition of toy theatre, which allowed 19th-century drama fans to bring their favorite plays into their homes. He fused that with one of his favorite classic sci-fi films to create Planet of the Grapes, a toy theatre reimagining of Planet of the Apes.
- Visit Planet of the Grapes‘s website to find out more, including information about upcoming shows: https://www.planetgrapeshow.com/
- Read a short article by Pete for American Theatre magazine about his work on Planet of the Grapes: https://www.americantheatre.org/2021/04/29/theatre-thats-evolved-from-grapes/
- Learn more about the history of toy theatre, as well as how artists are using its techniques today:
- Explore the Arthur Weyhe Toy Theatre Collection at the New York Public Library; you can access the finding aid here and explore images from the collection here.
- The World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts has a brief summary of toy theatre’s history: https://wepa.unima.org/en/toy-theatre/.
- Great Small Works is a theatre company working with toy theatre techniques today – visit their website here: https://greatsmallworks.org/toy.html
- Read Marisa C. Hayes’s article on toy theatre performances during the 2020 covid-19 pandemic in this Theatre Times article: https://thetheatretimes.com/the-magic-is-in-the-miniature-toy-theatre-thrives-online-during-quarantine/
Episode 75: Our Town in the 21st Century: Howard Sherman’s Another Day’s Begun
Our Town is one of the classics of the American stage, but how well do we really know this play? Howard Sherman joins us to discuss his new book, Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century, in which he speaks with people who have been part of productions of the play in the last few decades. Many of them have gained surprising new insights into this supposedly all-too-familiar play.
- Learn more about Howard’s book on his website: https://hesherman.com/anotherdaysbegun/
- Check out Another Day’s Begun at our affiliate link at bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/shop/theatrehistorypodcast
- Additional reading:
- Howard’s LitHub article on the WWII-era radio play that served as an unofficial “sequel” to Our Town: https://lithub.com/on-the-our-town-spin-off-that-served-as-wwii-spirit-building/
- Howard’s article in the Guardian on the international appeal of Our Town: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2021/jan/20/thornton-wilder-our-town-is-americas-answer-to-shakespeare
- Howard’s account of attending a production of Our Town at Sing Sing Prison: http://www.hesherman.com/2013/06/03/address-sing-sing-prison-grovers-corners-ny-the-mind-of-god/
- Watch the 1977 TV version of Our Town with Hal Holbrook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEoXuXRoOdY&t=14s
Episode 74: Discovering Teresa Deevy with Drs. Una Kealy and Kate McCarthy
Teresa Deevy was one of Ireland’s most frequently-produced playwrights in the 1930s. As a Deaf woman in a deeply patriarchal society that was trying to assert its identity in the wake of independence, she brought a unique perspective to Irish theatre. But she’s been relatively neglected by later generations of scholars and artists. Among the people who are working to change that are Dr. Kate McCarthy and Dr. Una Kealy, who join us to share fascinating insights into Deevy’s life and work.
- Read Teresa Deevy’s one-act play, The King of Spain’s Daughter: https://www.estudiosirlandeses.org/2020/03/translation-of-the-king-of-spains-daughter-1935-by-teresa-deevy/
- Read Una’s article, “Resisting Power and Direction: The King of Spain’s Daughter by Teresa Deevy as a Feminist Call to Action” for additional insights into this play: https://www.estudiosirlandeses.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/DEF-INTRO-TRANSLATION-1.pdf
- Explore the Special Collections and Archives at Maynooth University, which houses extensive material related to Deevy: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/library/collections/special-collections-and-archives
- Learn more about recent scholarly work on Deevy at the “Active Speech: Sharing Scholarship on Teresa Deevy” conference: https://activespeech2021.org/
- Find out more about the Abbey Theatre’s 2017 productions of Deevy’s work in their Research Pack, which includes Kate and Una’s contributions: https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/KATIE-ROCHE_RESEARCH-PACK-2017.pdf
Episode 73: Exploring the Theatre 2020 Collection with Dr. Eric Colleary
How was theatre in the United States affected by the events of 2020? At the same time that the covid-19 pandemic closed down live performances and threw the entire economy of the performing arts into chaos, the theatre world found itself trying to respond to protests against racial injustice. Dr. Eric Colleary, along with his colleagues at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, is leading an effort to document this tumultuous year through the Theatre 2020 Collection.
- Learn more about the Theatre 2020 Collection and find out how you can contribute: https://www.hrc.utexas.edu/theatre2020/
- Browse some selected items from the collection here: https://hrc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15878coll117