Site of the First Theatre in English America - Williamsburg, VA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 37° 16.373 W 076° 42.097
18S E 349133 N 4126501
Quick Description: At this location is an outdoor stage where actors provide a taste of colonial theatre and a plaque that stating that this was where the first theatre in English America was located, built in 1716.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 1/17/2010 5:44:33 AM
Waymark Code: WM82QC
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member kJfishman
Views: 15

Long Description:
In Williamsburg, in the section called Colonial Williamsburg, by the Palace Green, there is a plaque mounted on a fence that states that on this site was the first theatre in English America. The text on the plaque is as follows:

Site of the First Theatre

William Levingston, merchant of Kent County, built the first theatre in English America on this site c. 1716. For three decades companies of actors entertained audiences at the "Play House" with latest successes from the London Stage. In 1745 the City of Williamsburg converted the frame structure into a municipal hall. The building was razed c. 1745 after the construction of the Courthouse on Market Square.


Rather than a full indoor theatre, there is an outdoor stage with benches, where visitors to Colonial Williamsburg can sit at the appointed time and see samples of example plays and dances that could have been done at the original theatre. Shakespeare was commonly done.

One reference found, Theatrehistory.com, has an article that compares the claims to the first theatre in America and continues with an account of the 1716 theatre built by Levingston. On November 21, 1716, he bought 3 1/2 acres and built a dwelling house, a kitchen, a stable, and a theatre, and he laid out a bowling alley. The theatre did not do very well, and it was foreclosed in 1723. It was later used to hold "dancing assemblies" and productions put on by students of William and Mary College. There is no evidence known of any performances made at that location after 1735, and it was given to Williamsburg to be used as a town hall.

There is also a brief mention in a Wikipedia article that supports the claim that it was the first theatre.

You may be able to view the plaque without an admissions ticket, but that might be best done after the hours the museum is open (around 9 am to 5 pm each day). Those who have admission tickets may be able to view the play.

Sources:

Theatrehistory.com (The First American Theatre):
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Wikipedia (Theater of the United States):
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FIRST - Classification Variable: Place or Location

Date of FIRST: 1/1/1716

More Information - Web URL: [Web Link]

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