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Photograph of the inaugural speech of President John F. Kennedy

KC Festival: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
The Kennedy Center marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable American presidency
Presidents, America, Dance, Music, Theater, Poetry

From The Mouths Of Monsters

2700 F St.: From The Mouths of Monsters
Can language unleash the beast in each of us? her a mask to help, but the gift possesses supernatural powers that cause her to give words amazing power—and also the potential to cause terrible harm.
Literature, Theater, Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

2700 F St.: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Performance/Discussion
Christopher Boone is your average teenage boy. He plays video games, studies for his exams, hangs out in front of the TV… the usual. But Christopher is also just a little bit unique.
Theater, Backstage, Accessibility

Musical Theatre Today

2700 F St.: Musical Theatre Today
Forget everything you thought you knew about Broadway-style shows because this performance gives you an insider’s look at modern musical theater—musical theater today.
Theater, Backstage, Broadway, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays

Superman 2050

Cuesheet: Superman 2050
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… Superman 2050! Fast forward 35 years from now to see the fearless Man of Steel battle his arch-enemy Lex Luthor.
Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Science Fiction & Fantasy

All That Fall

Cuesheet: All That Fall: Performance/Discussion
Discover a different kind of theater with no stage and no actors. Experience this radio play as the author, Samuel Beckett, intended—to be heard rather than seen.
Theater, Backstage, Technology

The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly

Cuesheet: The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly
It’s hard to make your voice heard, especially when you’re small.
Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

Moby Dick

Cuesheet: Moby Dick
Hoist sail, raise anchor, and join the hunt for the great white whale! Set off on an epic sea adventure as one of America’s greatest novels comes to life on stage.
Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

The Cerulean Time Capsule

Cuesheet: The Cerulean Time Capsule
Tap into the funk with four homegrown hoofers from Minneapolis, complete with a trunk full of tap shoes, funky costumes, and a big brass band. Join them for a joyous parade of genre-hopping music and hard-hitting percussive dance.
Nature, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater

Mariko's Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure

Cuesheet: Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure
In this new dance work from Chicago’s acclaimed Hubbard Street 2 in collaboration with the shadow puppeteers of Manuel Cinema, a restless girl finds inspiration from her mom’s old records to move to her own beat.
Theater, Dance

Flowers Stink

Cuesheet: Flowers Stink Student Guide
Meet Acacia, a middle school girl, who's struggling to write a nature-themed poem for school. That is, until she meets two zany, fantastical plant beings who help her discover the power of imagination and beauty of nature.
Nature, Theater

Darius & Twig

Cuesheet: Darius & Twig
Based on the award-winning novel by Walter Dean Myers, this captivating tale about the power of friendship takes the late author's "unerring eye for what's real and meaningful in life" (Newsday) to depict visceral scenes of inner-city struggle with sensitivity and wit.
Theater, Family, Controversial

OLIVÉRio

Cuesheet: OLIVÉRio
OLIVÉRio adapts the themes, events, and characters of the novel Oliver Twist into a story full of the sights and sounds of modern-day Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Latin America

Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play

Cuesheet: Elephant and Piggie's We Are in a Play
Straight from Mo Willems’ award-winning book series, best friends Gerald and Piggie sing and dance their way through fundamental questions like, should you share your ice cream? And how can two friends play with one toy? Discover the answers and much more!
Animals, Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

To Sail Around The Sun

Cuesheet: To Sail Around The Sun
Picture the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Next, add live music and dance. Now get ready for an incredible journey through the year as the Earth sails around the sun.
Theater, Composers, Music, Nature, Plants, Science

Nearly Lear

Cuesheet: Nearly Lear
What if William Shakespeare’s great and tragic story of King Lear were told from the point of view of the King’s closest companion—the court Fool? In this one-woman show, Susanna Hamnett plays the Fool and every other character, borrowing from the Bard’s legendary words, to tell a new version that’s Nearly Lear.
Theater, Shakespeare

Grug and the Rainbow

Cuesheet: Grug and the Rainbow
Grug is a small guy bursting with big curiosity. He is fascinated by the world around him, solving everyday problems with creativity and joy. In this whimsical tale, Grug goes on an epic adventure to find a rainbow.
Theater, Puppets

Titus

Cuesheet: Titus
Ten-year-old Titus has seen life’s disappointments pile up and he’s on edge—the edge of the school roof to be exact. From that perch, he shares the story of his life and all the losses that have left him hurting. He still has his wicked sense of humor, but can he find a ray of hope and happiness for the future?
Theater, Family, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

/peh-LO-tah/: A Futbol Framed Freedom Suite

Cuesheet: /peh-LO-tah/: A Futbol Framed Freedom Suite
As a child of Haitian immigrants, poet-performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph found freedom on the soccer field. He embraced the sport as a means to navigate his own American Dream. In /peh-LO-tah/, Marc teams up with young players, and combines his explosive Hip Hop style with spoken word, text, movement, music, and folklore to explore the “spinning ball” (pelota) we call Earth.
Theater, Sports, World Cultures

Mouth Open, Story Jumps Out

Cuesheet: Mouth Open, Story Jump Out
Master storyteller Polarbear introduces a world of zany characters and madcap adventures. Journey with him as he takes you back to the day he started making up stories for fun, for fame, for friendship…and for his lost father.
Theater, Poetry, Hip-Hop, Family

All The Way Live!

Cuesheet: All The Way Live!
Anything can come to life with a simple beat, rhythm, and rhyme. Join Hip Hop artists, Paige and Baye, as they “remix” everything from folk tales to classical art.
Hip-Hop, Backstage, Theater, JFKC

Freeze Frame... Stop the Madness

Cuesheet: Debbie Allen's Freeze Frame... Stop The Madness
Part of the Kennedy Center Hip Hop series, Debbie Allen’s Freeze Frame…Stop the Madness hones in on the issues of violence and race relations shaping today’s conversations and news stories in America.
Hip-Hop, Backstage, Theater, Controversial, JFKC

Where Words Once Were

Cuesheet: Where Words Once Were
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t find the right words to express how you feel? What if you couldn’t find those words because they weren’t allowed to exist?
Theater, Language

Bud Not Buddy

Cuesheet: Bud, Not Buddy
It’s 1936 in Flint, Michigan, and ten-year-old Bud Caldwell sets off on an epic journey of discovery, set to the soulful sounds of jazz.
Theater, Jazz, History, America

Somewhere in Quixote

Cuesheet: Somewhere in Quixote
No matter how familiar you are with the story of Don Quixote, prepare to experience it in a whole new way with this Spanish theater company.
Europe, Theater, Folklore

Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire

Cuesheet: Scottish Ballet Working Rehearsal: A Streetcar Named Desire
Scottish Ballet celebrates the 65th anniversary of Tennessee William’s literary masterpiece with this original adaptation, a vibrant fusion of drama and dance set to a jazz-inspired score.
Dance, Choreographers, Ballet, Theater

Jack's Tale: A Mythic Mountain Musical Adventure

Cuesheet: Jack's Tale: A Mythical Mountain Musical Adventure
He’s not the Jack you may know from “Jack in the Beanstalk.” This Jack is based on the heroic character from the Scots-Irish “Jack Legends,” passed down by the early American settlers of the Appalachian mountains.
Theater, Family, Folklore

The Voice of Anne Frank

Cuesheet: The Voice of Anne Frank
Told through dance, music, spoken text, sound effects, and lighting, The Voice of Anne Frank presents a unique view of Anne as a bright and vivacious thirteen-year-old.
Music, Poetry, Theater, Europe, Controversial

Doktor Kaboom: Live Wire!

Cuesheet: Doktor Kaboom: Live Wire! The Electricity Tour
Science is a blast, and nothing says scientific discovery quite like “kaboom.” Get ready for hilarious, electrical entertainment with Doktor Kaboom and get psyched about science.
Science, Inventions, Theater

Mockingbird

Cuesheet: Mockingbird: A World Premiere Kennedy Center and VSA Commission
Adapted by Julie Jensen from the 2010 award-winning book by Kathryn Erskine, this vibrant and moving world premiere play tells the story of a young girl on the autism spectrum who changes a community.
Accessibility, Theater, Literature, Family

Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's The Suit

Cuesheet: Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's The Suit
Hearts will be broken in this tragic tale of a wife’s betrayal and a husband’s revenge set in South Africa during the days of apartheid. Can music and wit soften the pain?
Theater, Family, Playwrights & Plays

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Cuesheet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Welcome to an enchanted world of fairies, potions, mischief, and magic... where actors and puppets present Shakespeare’s classic comedy of fickle love.
Backstage, Shakespeare, Theater, Puppets

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Cuesheet: The Adventures of Robin Hood
He robs the rich and gives to the poor. He sneaks around Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men. It’s a tale that has been told a thousand times, but never quite like this!
Theater, Folklore, Comedy

Not by Bread Alone

Cuesheet: Not by Bread Alone
What is it like to live in a world of darkness and silence? Find out as the actors of this Israeli theater troupe share their memories, dreams, and joyful moments…while baking bread!
Theater, World Cultures, Accessibility

Me and My Shadow

Cuesheet: Me and My Shadow
Shadows—they’re mysterious, they’re goofy, and they can do some pretty remarkable things. But making friends with your shadow can be tricky. Presented in the form of a visual poem, Me and My Shadow uses a combination of light and shadow, paper and water, fantastical imagery, and intriguing sounds to reveal the perplexities and pleasures of friendship.
Choreographers, Puppets, Theater

Orphie and the Book of Heroes

Cuesheet: Orphie and the Book of Heroes
Join Orphie, a young girl growing up in Ancient Greece, as she sets sail to save Homer and his Book of Heroes—a quest that takes her from the heights of Mt. Olympus to the depths of the underworld.
Folklore, Greece, Theater

Man of the House

Cuesheet: Man of the House: A World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission
“Son, I’ve got to go. Now you are the man of the house.” Pablito never forgot those words from his father. Now it’s time to do something about them.
Backstage, Family, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

Four Little Girls

Cuesheet: Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing that took the lives of four young girls, this reading remembers this seminal event in American history and how it helped to galvanize the American Civil Rights Movement.
America, Controversial, History, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Elephant & Piggie's We Are In A Play

Cuesheet: Elephant and Piggie's We Are in a Play (Premiere)
Straight from Mo Willems’ award-winning book series, best friends Gerald and Piggie sing and dance their way through fundamental questions like, should you share your ice cream? And how can two friends play with one toy? Discover the answers and much more!
Animals, Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Cuesheet: All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
The a cappella voices of Cantus and actors from Theater Latté Da recall the remarkable World War I truce between Allied Forces and German soldiers on Christmas, 1914. All is Calm brings this extraordinary tale to life with words and songs from the soldiers who laid down their arms to celebrate Christmas.
History, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Europe

Maria Callas as Norma

Article: Viva la Diva!
A look at some of opera's most demanding female roles
Theater, Orchestra, Music, Tragedy, Opera

Atlanta Opera's production of Cosi Fan Tutte

Article: Cozying up to Così
A guide to Mozart's hilarious romantic comedy
Opera, Music, Theater, Comedy, Composers

La Traviata

Article: Boy Meets Girl, Girl Meets Tragic End
You haven't experienced stage romance until you've experienced opera. Here's a look at opera in love
Opera, Tragedy, Europe, Music, Theater

Little Dancer

Article: On Stage: Little Dancer
This feature includes background about the musical Little Dancer as well as an interpretive piece for younger audience members about the play’s more sensitive themes
Theater, Ballet, Backstage, Controversial, Dance, Europe, Young Artists

Musical Theater Performance

Field Guide: Dramatic Do's and Don'ts
Everything you need to know before you go to a play or musical theater performance
Theater

ers

Gear: The Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight
One of the jobs of a lighting designer is to be an illusionist; to convince the audience they’re somewhere special
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage

Death of a Salesman

Master + Work: Arthur Miller and Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller’s voice of social conscience and theatrical imagination changed the face of American theater. Meet him through his masterwork, Death of a Salesman.
America, History, Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Controversial

As You Like It

Article: Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare made the pursuit of love just as difficult as leading men to war, or solving your father's murder
Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Tragedy, Literature, Theater

Romeo and Juliet

Article: Romeo and Juliet
Find out why William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is such an enduring love story. Learn more about Act II’s balcony scene and the tragedy’s most well-known adaptations
Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Tragedy, Literature, Theater

Heart-shaped Chocolates

Collection: Love
These resources offer ways to look at the concept of love beyond the lovey-dovey. Whether as sweeping ballet choreography or tragic Shakespearean poetry, you'll explore how love can be expressed in different artistic contexts.
Dance, Education, Poetry, History, Shakespeare, Theater, Tragedy

Kennedy Center

Collection: A Few of Our Favorite Things...
From musical theater to music in space, our media collections reflect the breadth and depth of the performing arts in America and around the world. These are some of our staff favorites--we'd love to hear yours!
Backstage, Dance, Education, Jazz, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, World Cultures

Hip-Hop

Collection: Hip-Hop Culture
Hip-Hop has blended and transcended its artistic elements to become a means for seeing, celebrating, experiencing, understanding, confronting, and commenting on life and the world. Hip-Hop, in other words, is a way of living—a culture.
Hip-Hop, Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, Fashion, Innovators & Pioneers, Language, Music, Poetry, Popular Culture, Theater, Young Artists

Martha Graham

Collection: Women in the Arts
From providing historical inspiration to preserving cultural traditions to pushing the boundaries of creativity, explore the contributions women have made and continue to make to the arts.
Dance, Dance Legends, Music Legends, Musicals, Literature, Poetry, Theater

spooky moon

Collection: Things That Go Bump in the Night
Welcome, foolish mortals. Haunted music and monsters are just the beginning--this Halloween, look here for more spooky resources.
Folklore, Music, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater

comedy and tragedy masks

Collection: Theater Resources
Take a peek behind the red curtain and discover the artistry and history behind the world of theater. Explore the playwriting process first-hand, learn about the cultural impact of performance, and read and perform some of the most influential works of the 20th century.
America, Art Venues, Backstage, Broadway, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!

Collection: Opera Resources
Get out your opera glasses and prepare to take a look at the history and evolution of an art form over four hundred years old. Learn how singers train and condition their voices, become familiar with some of the stage’s most tragic love affairs, and discover how theatre and music combined can tell epic stories in unforgettable ways.
Choreographers, Composers, Europe, Musicals, Orchestra, Opera, Tragedy, Theater

Red Poppy

Collection: Asia
Fish painting, lion dances, larger-than-life calligraphy and a tornado of fire... experience the vibrant diversity of the arts across Asia.
Asia, China, India, Japan, Dance, Folklore, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, World Cultures

Parent and Child with Chorus Line Playbills

Article: Advice for First-time Theater Goers
Tips to minimize the fuss and maximize the fun of your theater experience
Theater

Spooky Radio

Article: Making a Spooky Radio Play
Children can learn about storytelling by writing and performing their own radio play
Family, Literature, Theater, Young Artists

iTouch Reading

Article: Acting & Storytelling
Family-friendly tips for acting out amazing stories
Young Artists, Theater, Family

musical theater students

Article: When the Show Biz Bug Bites
Some tips to guiding your child to a life in musical theater
Musicals, Theater, Young Artists, Broadway, Music

Young Dancers

Article: Child's Play or Real Ambition?
How to connect your child with the performing arts
Young Artists, Family, Ballet, Dance, Musical Instruments, Music, Opera, Theater

Mom and Daughter Doing Crafts

Article: Giving Feedback: Food for Thought for Parents
How can parents talk with and engage with their kids about their creative work? Here are seven suggestions to get you started
Family, Young Artists, Theater, Music, Dance, Ballet, Poetry

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 6
Comparing and incorporating art forms by analyzing methods of presentation and audience response for theatre, dramatic media (such as film, television, and electronic media), and other art forms
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 5
Researching by using cultural and historical information to support improvised and scripted scenes
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 8
Understanding context by analyzing the role of theatre, film, television, and electronic media in the community and in other cultures
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 7
Analyzing, evaluating, and constructing meanings from improvised and scripted scenes and from theatre, film, television, and electronic media productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 2
Acting by developing basic acting skills to portray characters who interact in improvised and scripted scenes
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 1
Script writing by the creation of improvisations and scripted scenes based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 4
Directing by organizing rehearsals for improvised and scripted scenes
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 5-8 Theater Standard 3
Designing by developing environments for improvised and scripted scenes
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 6
Comparing and integrating art forms by analyzing traditional theatre, dance, music, visual arts, and new art forms
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 5
Researching by evaluating and synthesizing cultural and historical information to support artistic choices
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 8
Understanding context by analyzing the role of theatre, film, television, and electronic media in the past and the present
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 7
Analyzing, critiquing, and constructing meanings from informal and formal theatre, film, television, and electronic media productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 2
Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining characters in improvisations and informal or formal productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 1
Script writing through improvising, writing, and refining scripts based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 4
Directing by interpreting dramatic texts and organizing and conducting rehearsals for informal or formal productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade 9-12 Theater Standard 3
Designing and producing by conceptualizing and realizing artistic interpretations for informal or formal productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 6
Comparing and connecting art forms by describing theatre, dramatic media (such as film, television, and electronic media), and other art forms
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 5
Researching by finding information to support classroom dramatizations
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 8
Understanding context by recognizing the role of theatre, film, television, and electronic media in daily life
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 7
Analyzing and explaining personal preferences and constructing meanings from classroom dramatizations and from theatre, film, television, and electronic media productions
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 2
Acting by assuming roles and interacting in improvisations
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 1
Script writing by planning and recording improvisations based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 4
Directing by planning classroom dramatizations
Education, Theater

Content & Achievement Standard: Grade K-4 Theater Standard 3
Designing by visualizing and arranging environments for classroom dramatizations
Education, Theater

Twenty-First Century

Take Five: Arts in the 21st Century Classroom
The skills our students need can be readily integrated into arts lessons and vice versa
Theater, Music, Literature, Dance

Cultural Dancers

Take Five: Cultural Connections
Enliven and enrich your cultural heritage month observances through the arts
Music, Dance, Theater, Poetry, Literature, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Native America, World Cultures, India

Art Teacher With Students

Article: Do Tell: Giving Feedback to Your Students
How can arts educators provide engaging and useful feedback? Here are seven suggestions to get you started
Education, Young Artists, Musical Instruments, Theater, Literature, Music, Poetry, Ballet, Dance

Story to Life

Tipsheet: Stories Brought to Life
Learn about ways to increase student participation and skill building during interactive read-alouds
Theater, Music, Language, Education, Dance

Acting Teacher

Tipsheet: What Do I Say?
For the young theater student, a teacher’s feedback can inspire or crush in a matter of minutes. Learn how to assess your student’s work responsibly
Young Artists, Theater, Education

Theatre with sensitive themes

Article: Dealing with Sensitive Themes Onstage
Staging controversial shows in school theaters presents rewards and risks. Veteran arts educators share insights about the pros and cons of such shows, and how to produce them successfully
Theater, Controversial

East High School Dancers

Article: Encouraging Your Students to Become Choreographers
Use these great ideas to get your students choreographing at your school
Broadway, Choreographers, Dance, Musicals, Theater, Young Artists

Students Dressed in Costumes

Article: Process Drama: Taking a Walk in Someone Else's Shoes
Process drama is an imaginative tool for non-arts teachers and students to explore issues and solve problems
Education, History, Theater

Scene from Twelfth Night

Grades 6-8 Lesson: Playing with Puns
This theater and language arts lesson offers intellectual, creative and interpretive opportunities. Students will analyze and compare the puns and word play in selected scenes
Language, Literature, Theater

Animals from a Fable

Grades 6-8 Lesson: Writing an Original Fable
In this lesson, students will use the steps of the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing) to write and perform original fables as skits.
Folklore, Language, Literature, Theater, Young Artists

Inspired by Muses

Grades 6-8 Lesson: Inspired by Muses, Graces and Fates
Muses of ancient Greece inspired poets, playwrights, dancers, actors, musicians, and scientists. Graces added life to a party and the Fates determined a life’s destiny.
Greece, History, Theater, World Cultures

Romeo and Juliet

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Performance Essay
By investigating Shakespeare through both an analytical and theatrical lens, students achieve a much deeper understanding of his work.
Theater, Shakespeare, Playwrights & Plays, Literature

Scene from 'The Glass Menagerie'

Grades 9-12 Lesson: The Memory Play in American Drama
This lesson explores structural and technical devices of the "memory" play by focusing on a Tennessee Williams' masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie
Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Literature

Noh Character Dancing

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Noh Theater
In learning about the history, theatrical elements, music, dance, and costuming, of Noh Plays students are also comparing and contrasting these to the other theater elements
Folklore, History, Theater, Japan

Scene from Eugene O'Neill's 'The Hairy Ape'

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Uncivil Civilization in The Hairy Ape
Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape presents a disheartening assessment of the impact of living in the industrialized society of the early 20th century.
Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Literature

Peter Pan Statue by George Frampton

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Characterization in Literature and Theater
In this lesson, students explore various methods authors use to create effective characters.
Literature, Language, Theater

Chivalry and Courtly Love

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Chivalry and Courtly Love
Explore the Arthurian codes of chivalry and courtly love in art, modern films, books, and poetry. Examine the way in which these ideals have influenced modern concepts.
Movies & Movie Stars, Literature, America, Theater, Popular Culture

Eugene O'Neill

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Eugene O'Neill on Page and Stage
Continue the exploration of "Puritanism" as an influence on the development of modern American drama by focusing on elements of narrative, theme and characterization.
Playwrights & Plays, Literature, Theater

Firefighter at Ground Zero

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Art from Tragedy: Remembering 9/11
Students will interview their peers about their memories of September 11th, 2001, and use those memories to craft a one-act play for performance
America, Theater, Tragedy, Playwrights & Plays, Movies & Movie Stars, Literature, History

Performance of Shakespeare's

Grades 9-12 Lesson: A Question of Style
Students will explore the nature of comedy by informally staging the opening scenes in Shakespeare's As You Like It
Theater, Young Artists, Literature, Playwrights & Plays

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Acting Up, A Melodrama
In this lesson, the students practice some melodramatic movement.
Physical Activity, Theater

Scene from The Crucible

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Arthur Miller and The Crucible
This lesson examines the consequences of personal conscience in conflict with rigid societal perceptions of what is "right" in human behavior as articulated in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Theater, Literature, Controversial

Gilded age painting

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Arts of the Gilded Age
Learn about and discuss characteristics of the Gilded Age. Using books, internet and other media, research the various fine and performing art forms popular during that time period.
Opera, Musicals, Architecture, Ballet, Music, Theater

Scene from

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Exploring A Streetcar Named Desire
Students study setting, plot, and character development in Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire and discuss its impact on American theater.
Playwrights & Plays, Education, Theater, Literature

Snowy London

Grades 9-12 Lesson: Setting the Story
Students examine setting as a significant element of fiction. They learn devices for creating a realistic setting, and use the methods in works of their own
Literature, Theater, Visual Arts

Civil War Letters

Grade 5 Lesson: Civil War Letters
Using letters written during the Civil War students develop an understanding of the message of the letters. They will create a dramatic reading based on their letter.
America, History, Theater

Appomattox Court-House

Grade 5 Lesson: A Light in the Storm: A Personal Look at the Civil War
Create a historical timeline and personal event timeline based on the historical fiction book and play A Light in the Storm and its main character, Amelia Martin.
America, History, Literature, Theater

Bellerophon and the Chimera

Grade 5 Lesson: Greek Mythology: Cultures and Art
Gain insight into Greek culture and make aesthetic, perceptual, creative, and intellectual connections to contemporary culture by creating and painting mythological characters
Architecture, Geography, Greece, History, Literature, Theater, World Cultures

recycle

Grades 3-4 Lesson: Get Dramatic: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
In this lesson students will explore the concepts behind the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan through theater
Nature, Theater, Science

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia - Swimmy

Video: In Performance: Leo Lionni's Swimmy
A tiny, fast-moving, black fish-that's Swimmy! He lives in the ocean with all his little red brothers and sisters. They are a happy school (that's a group) of fish.
Animals, Literature, Puppets, Theater

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia - Inch by Inch

Video: In Performance: Leo Lionni's Inch by Inch
How does a little inchworm survive in a garden full of hungry birds?
Animals, Literature, Puppets, Theater

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia - Frederick

Video: In Performance: Leo Lionni's Frederick
While the family of field mice works hard to gather food for the long, cold winter, Frederick seems to be doing nothing!
Animals, Literature, Puppets, Theater

Lee Blessing

Video: Lee Blessing: The Power of Theater
In this Power of Theater podcast, part of the Kennedy Center Education Department's American College Theater Festival's summer intensive for playwrights, playwright Lee Blessing discusses the difference between writing for the theater and writing for television and film.
Theater, Backstage, Playwrights & Plays, Jobs in the Arts

Marcia Norman

Video: Marcia Norman: The Power of Theater
"When you're in a piece of wonderful theater your whole body responds to what's on the stage." In this Power of Theater podcast, part of the Kennedy Center Education Department's American College Theater Festival's summer intensive for playwrights, playwright Marcia Norman discusses the different forms and forums for storytelling, and what is thrilling about working for the stage.
Theater, Backstage, Playwrights & Plays

Richard Thomas

Video: Richard Thomas & Randle Mell: The Power of Theater
In this podcast, part of the Power of Theater series, actors Richard Thomas (The Waltons) and Randle Mell (24) discuss performing in the stage version of Twelve Angry Men and how the play illustrates the power of one voice in a system designed to reward the collective majority.
Theater, Backstage, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

Kathleen Turner

Video: Kathleen Turner: The Power of Theater
In this Power of Theater podcast, actress Kathleen Turner discusses the importance of theater as a means of creating a shared experience among strangers and her need to touch the lives of her audience.
Theater, Backstage, Broadway, Jobs in the Arts, Playwrights & Plays

Alan Stanford

Video: Alan Stanford: The Power of Theater
Alan Stanford & the Cast of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot talk about experiencing the magic of theater by coming to the theater with an “open heart.”
Theater, Backstage, Controversial, Europe, Playwrights & Plays

August Wilson

Video: August Wilson: The Power of Theater
August Wilson's work accurately portrays the black experience in America-addressing themes of struggle (violence, economic injustices, unemployment, poverty and neglect, racism, civil rights, unlawful imprisonment, the legacy of slavery) as well as themes of triumph (the strength of family ties and loyalties, the uniqueness of black culture and the fight to preserve and value it).
Theater, Backstage, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

ARTSEDGE

Video: ARTSEDGE
The Kennedy Center opens its doors to thousands of children each year – and hundreds of thousands more step in through ARTSEDGE, our K-12 arts education network.
Education, Dance, Literature, Music, Theater, Young Artists

Shaanxi Folk Art Theater

Video: Shaanxi Folk Art Theater
This side by side video shows the story of the turtle and the crane as seen by the audience and behind the screen as the puppeteers bring the story to life
Asia, Backstage, China, Folklore, Puppets, World Cultures, Theater, Animals

Teater Garasi

Video: Teater Garasi in Chicago
Indonesian actors visit with members of the Chicago-based theater companies The Civilians, Silk Road Theatre Project, and Redmoon Theatre
World Cultures, Asia, Theater, Young Artists, Backstage

Theater seats

Video Series: The Power of Theater
What does theater "do"? Does it matter in a contemporary, screen-driven society? Drawn from the Kennedy Center Education Department archives, this series examines the way theater impacts modern society and culture.
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

Matt the Chihuahua

Video Series: Matt the Chihuahua
Meet Matt, and actor who has been cast in a role as a chihuahua. How does he prepare for that?
Animals, Theater, Physical Activity, Young Artists

Nobody's Perfect

Video Series: Nobody's Perfect: Page to Stage
Explore the creation of the Kennedy Center's Theater for Young Audiences and VSA Arts production of Nobody's Perfect, including how American Sign Language was incorporated into a lively musical (ASL captioning is included in every episode in this series).
Jobs in the Arts, Language, Literature, Theater, Young Artists, Backstage, Musicals, Accessibility

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

Video Series: Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia: Backstage
Go backstage with the artists of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia to learn about the skill and creativity they use to bring charcters to life, and what it's like to be a professional puppeteer on the road.
Puppets, Literature, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage, Theater

Stephen Schwartz

Video Series: An Evening with Stephen Schwartz
From his time at Juilliard to his grand success on Broadway, follow the path of Stephen Schwartz, the composer/lyricist of such legendary works as Godspell, Pippin, and his most recent Broadway hit, Wicked. Excerpted from the Kenndey Center event moderated by Michael Kerker, ASCAP Director of Musical Theater, this series invites you into the world of one of the American theater's most talented artists.
Theater, Music, Popular Culture, Broadway, Composers, Musicals, Backstage

Peking Opera

Video Series: China: Arts & Culture
This video series brings you a glimpse of the history and diversity of China's performing arts
China, Dance, Geography, Musical Instruments, Music, Puppets, Theater, World Cultures, Asia

Blood, Guts, & Gore

Video Series: Blood, Guts, and Gore
These video tutorials offer step-by-step guides for homemade fake blood and other gory stage effects. The series is hosted by stuntman and special effects professional Greg Poljacik.
Backstage, Movies & Movie Stars, Television, Theater, Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stunts & Special Effects

Jason and the Argonauts

Video Series: Jason and the Argonauts
This video series explores a dramatic interpretation of the Greek myth Jason and the Argonauts
Folklore, Puppets, Greece, Theater, Literature

Knuffle Bunny

Video Series: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical
A Kennedy Center production about family, best friends, baby steps, and memories that last a lifetime
Theater, Puppets, Literature, Animals, Jobs in the Arts

Galumpha

Video Series: Galumpha, The Human Jungle Gym
Galumpha, "The Human Jungle Gym," brings to life a world of imagination, beauty, muscle, and merriment
Dance, Physical Activity, Theater, Music, Jobs in the Arts

Shadow Puppets

Flash Interactive: Playing with Shadows: An Introduction to Shadow Puppets
Learn about the ancient art of Shadow Puppetry and find out how to create your own shadow plays!
China, Folklore, Animals, Jobs in the Arts, Puppets, Theater, Visual Arts, World Cultures

Nobody's Perfect

Flash Interactive: Nobody's Perfect
There’s more to live theater than meets the eye, peek at backstage theater culture to meet the challenges and the collaboration of talents who to bring a script to life.
Young Artists, Theater, Music, Jobs in the Arts, Language, Backstage, Musicals

Locomotion

Multimedia Series: Locomotion
A foster child uses poetry to cope with his troubled past
Playwrights & Plays, Literature, Poetry, Theater

Jackie and Caroline reading

Slideshow: Discovering American Scrapbook
Bringing poetry to life through performance
America, Poetry, Presidents, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Greece

Interactive: City Dionysia: The Ancient Roots of Modern Theater
Designed to support high school studies of theater, literature and world history, this site leads students though the development of Ancient ideas and contemporary theater practice, then on to write and stage their own original play while demonstrating an understanding of the rules and structure of Greek tragedy.
Greece, History, Language, Theater, World Cultures

Theater conversations

Audio Series: Theater Conversations
The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, in association with The Dramatists Guild, presents conversations from their two-week playwriting intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage

Book stack

Audio Series: Page to Stage
Taking a musical from words on a page to songs on a stage: in this series, follow along as talented playwrights, designers and directors at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts transform classic works of literature into original theatrical productions.
Literature, Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Music

Abraham Lincoln

Audio Series: Abraham Lincoln and Music
Abraham Lincoln was one of America's most unmusical presidents - he could neither play an instrument nor carry a tune
History, Music, Presidents, Theater, America, Opera, Musicals

Red curtain

Audio Series: Musical Theater in America
Through examples of the best that Broadway musicals have to offer, explore the history of musical theater in America; its structure and elements of a musical; musical theater's role in making social commentary, and its legacy.
Broadway, Musicals, America, Jobs in the Arts, History, Theater, Young Artists

Phantom Toolbooth cast

Audio: The Phantom Tollbooth: Page to Stage
Follow the process of bringing Norton Juster’s beloved book from the golden age of children’s literature to the stage. Commissioned by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this world-premiere musical tells the story of Milo, who comes to realize that life is more exciting than his wildest dreams. This inventive musical features a melodious score by Arnold Black and witty lyrics full of wordplay by Pulitzer Prize and three-time Tony winner Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me).
Literature, Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Music, Backstage, Musicals

Knuffle Bunny

Audio: Knuffle Bunny: Page to Stage
Follow the process of bringing Mo Willems’s beloved children's book to the stage. Commissioned by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this world-premiere musical tells the story of Trixie, her parents, and Trixie's favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny. This fun musical features an up-beat score by Michael Silversher with lyrics by Mo Willems.
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Music, Puppets, Literature, Musicals, Backstage

Willie from Blues Journey

Audio: Blues Journey: Page to Stage
Join playwright Jerome Hairson and director Scot Reese as they bring the story of Blues Journey from page to stage, developing the original book of blues lyrics into a fully realized play, rich with musical performances. Blues Journey follows the life of a blues performer as he learns to play, finds fame, and witnesses the blues evolve into rock-and-roll in this world premiere Kennedy Center original production based on the children's book by Walter Dean Myers.
Blues, Music, Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Popular Culture, Rock & Roll, Musicals, Backstage

Musical theater kids

Audio: Write Your Own Musical
Heather Nathans, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Maryland, is joined by Joe Stein and Sheldon Harnick (writers of Fiddler on the Roof) and Stephen Schwartz (who wrote Pippin, Godspell, and Wicked) to talk about how a musical gets written.
America, Art Venues, Backstage, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Young Artists

Lion King on Broadway

Audio: Disney Musicals
In an odd turn, the Broadway musical - exported by Walt Disney to cartoons in the 1930s - was returned to Broadway by Disney in the 1990s.
Broadway, Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Musicals, Theater, Popular Culture

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Safari Stretch
Act like a giraffe. Eat leaves. Stop for a drink. Enjoy the view. What other activities do you do in your typical giraffe day?
Animals, Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Sea Legs
Walk like a pirate on his ship during a storm. How do you move your feet? Legs? Remember, the waves are rocky and you need to keep your balance!
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shabby Chic
Build a fort using objects inside your home, like couch cushions, dining room chairs, and blankets. What kind of fort are you making? Is it a clubhouse? A shelter?
Architecture, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Sinking Sprint
Pretend you’re running over quicksand. Yikes! How fast do you move your legs to keep from sinking? How high do you kick them?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shadow Show
Make shadow puppets on the wall. Create a two character story—a character for your left hand and one for your right hand—and perform a puppet show.
Puppets, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Shout it Out
You overheard your friends are throwing you a surprise party. Practice the perfect surprise party squeal so they won’t know the secret’s out.
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Noodle Stroll
Pretend you’re walking on spaghetti with bare feet. Is it easy or hard to get around? How many noodles get stuck between your toes?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Mute Button
Without talking, show you’re annoyed by the people talking behind you in the movie theater. Can someone guess what you’re acting out?
Theater, Movies & Movie Stars

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: On the Prowl
Act like a wolf. Run. Dig. Howl. What other activities do you do in your typical wolf day?
Theater, Animals, Physical Activity, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Think Big
Pretend you’re eight feet tall. What do you see from up there? How does moving around change? Remember, be careful not to hit your head!
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Slow-Mo
Pretend you are running…in slow motion. Is it easy or hard? How do you move your arms, legs, and even face to pull this off?
Physical Activity, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Smiley Face
Look in a mirror and try out different smiles. Can you make a smile that’s silly? Scary?
Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Tail Spin
Pretend you have a tail. Is it long? Short? Curly? Fluffy? Does it change how you walk? Chase it. What happens?
Animals, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Starstruck
You’re a rock star. Practice signing your autograph for the red carpet. Is yours big and loopy or small and scribbly?
Rock & Roll, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Chilly Toes
Pretend you’re walking on ice cubes with bare feet. Brrr! Are you moving fast or slow? Careful not to slip!
Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Casting Call
You’re starring in a movie as a French chef. Get into character by describing what’s in your refrigerator. Remember your accent!
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater, World Cultures, Europe

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Catch Me
Pretend you’re a frog, chasing a fly. Listen as it buzzes by your ear and watch as it flies around. Now try and catch it. How long does it take?
Animals, Theater, Nature

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Chow Call
Create a cheer about your favorite dessert. Add some dance steps and arm movements. How many different dessert cheers can you compose?
Theater, Sports, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Be a Star!
Pretend you’re a character from your favorite book. Eat dinner as the character. Can your family guess who you are?
Literature, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Be a Star!
Pretend you’re a character from your favorite movie. Do your homework as the character. Are they as good a student as you?
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Animal Instincts
Inch around like a caterpillar. How quickly do you get places this way? Remember though, in time you become a butterfly. What’s it like to suddenly be able to fly?
Animals, Physical Activity, Theater, Nature

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Anybody There?
Walk like a ninja. Remember, you must be quick and silent as if you’re invisible! How long can you go undetected?
Japan, Physical Activity, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Bird Brain
Act like an eagle. Soar. Swoop. Nest. What other activities do you do in your typical eagle day?
Animals, Theater, Nature, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: If Animals Could Talk
Talk like an alligator. What do you sound like? What do you talk about? See if a friend or family member can guess what animal you are.
Animals, Theater, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Mail Call
Waddle like a duck on your way to pick up the mail. To get it right, how do you move your feet? Legs? Hips?
Animals, Theater, Physical Activity

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Magic Musings
You’re a wizard. What’s your favorite spell? How does it go? Draw a picture of yourself in your wizard’s outfit.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Visual Arts, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Do You Tweet?
Listen to a bird. Imitate the sounds it makes. Can you convince it you are a fellow bird?
Animals, Theater, Nature, Language

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Hot Hot Hot!
Pretend you’re walking on hot coals with bare feet. Yikes! How fast do you go to keep from burning your feet?
Theater, Physical Activity

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Oscar Wilde
"The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life."
Europe, Controversial, Literature, Comedy, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Samuel Beckett
"Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order."
Dance, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Aristotle
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
Greece, Theater, Tragedy

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Abhinavagupta
"Drama is like a dream, it is not real, but it is really felt."
Theater, India

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Sir Francis Bacon
"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."
Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Literature, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Oscar Hammerstein
"All the sounds of the earth are like music."
Broadway, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Theater

Arthur Miller

Arts Days: October 17, 1915: A Man of Morals
Arthur Miller's dramatic works probe at various aspects of human nature—all of them—the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Crucible, for example, examines what prompts otherwise good, moral people to make false accusations about others, while Incident at Vichy considers why the Nazis were able to perpetrate the mass slaughter of Jews.

In Death of a Salesman, Miller tells the story of an aging businessman attempting to right the failures of his past, and explores the concept of the "American Dream." This 1984 Kennedy Center Honoree became something of a political lightning rod, too: In 1957 Miller was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during Congress’ bid to find Communist sympathizers in the ranks of U.S. writers, actors, and others. Miller refused, was convicted of contempt, and became a hero of the political Left.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Controversial, Literature

Orson Welles

Arts Days: October 30, 1938: Fright Night
Horrified people all over the East Coast huddled by their radios and listened fearfully to the newscast of a Martian invasion of Earth. In Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, where the Martians had supposedly landed, people took to the streets with weapons, intent on repelling the invading army.

Soon a mob had assembled, and police were called to subdue the panicked crowd. But there were no Martians, only acting impresario Orson Welles’ overheated imagination. The entire "news broadcast" was only an adaptation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and airing on CBS. Radio announcers were more careful to insert disclaimers during fictional programs after the War of the Worlds fiasco.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater, Popular Culture

Eugene O’Neill

Arts Days: October 16, 1888: The Playwright Cometh
Among the greatest of American playwrights, Eugene O’Neill had theater bred right into him. His father was a touring actor, so O’Neill and his family accompanied him everywhere. It made for a transient life, but one that fed the young writer’s creativity.

His plays are detailed, realistic portrayals of the complex and difficult relationships among everyday people. O’Neill was also an innovator: He introduced the concept of realism to American audiences, explored simultaneous action on stage, and employed “the aside,” a dramatic technique that allows characters to reveal their true thoughts directly to the audience.

Through his work, he hoped to challenge theatergoers to reflect on their own families, relationships, and conflicts. Among his classic plays are Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Broadway, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Innovators & Pioneers

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Arts Days: October 13, 1962: Couples’ Therapy
It’s said that playwright Edward Albee, a 1996 Kennedy Center Honoree, had his own experiences at Connecticut’s Trinity College in mind when he wrote this play about George and Martha, a university professor and his wife. The audience watches as this dysfunctional, middle-aged couple drink heavily, insult one another and their guests, and savagely expose each other’s layers of emotional fragility.

The play’s adult language, themes of infidelity and alcohol abuse, and conflicts between illusion and reality, caused quite a stir after the play opened on this day in 1962. Only a few years later, the controversial drama was adapted into a feature film as a star vehicle for Hollywood’s iconic couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Today it is viewed as an important milestone in the development of modernist drama.
Theater, Broadway, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

Fiddler on the Roof

Arts Days: September 22, 1964: Mazel Tov! It’s a Hit!
It was just a simple story of a Russian Jew with five daughters, based on a book by Joseph Stein. But thanks to Jerry Bock’s music, Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics, and Zero Mostel’s unforgettable turn as Tevye the milkman, Fiddler on the Roof became one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals. Tevye tries hard to preserve the traditions of his childhood, but as his daughters grow up, fall in love, and leave the family’s village, he struggles to accept change.

In songs like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” Tevye’s family’s life is recounted with both hilarity and poignancy. Fiddler would go on to be the first musical to break the 3,000-performance mark on Broadway.
Broadway, Musicals, Europe, Folklore, History, Theater, World Cultures

Agnes De Mille

Arts Days: September 18, 1905: Dance Queen of Broadway
Her father William and her uncle Cecil were both big-shot Hollywood directors, so perhaps it was genetic that Agnes de Mille sought a life in the arts. She studied piano, considered acting and took dance lessons, and choreographed big dance sequences for movies like Cleopatra and ballets including the sensational Rodeo (which received 22 curtain calls). Yet it was as a choreographer for the theatrical stage that de Mille really found her calling.

The dance routines she created were anything but routine. Musicals like Carousel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and especially Oklahoma! revolutionized musical theater by the way de Mille incorporated her choreography right into the plot, further rounding out characters’ personalities, and blending folk dance with ballet.
Backstage, Broadway, Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, Musicals, Theater

Ed Sullivan

Arts Days: September 28, 1901: Talent Scout
Hard to believe but for more than three decades, Ed Sullivan's television variety show kept Americans entertained. Sullivan, a former sports reporter and radio announcer, became an emcee to vaudeville revues and charity events. Despite his famously wooden persona and uncomfortable on-camera appearance, Sullivan knew how to choose and showcase talent.

Until 1971, The Ed Sullivan Show provided a staging arena for entertainers of all stripes. Elvis made his hip-shaking debut in 1956; the Beatles’ 1964 appearances were some of television’s highest rated programs. The show was as likely to feature opera performances as it was rock and roll bands, and hosted many black performers, including Pearl Bailey, Diana Ross, and Louis Armstrong.
Art Venues, America, Television, Young Artists, Rock & Roll, Comedy, Dance, Theater, Music

A Chorus Line

Arts Days: September 27, 1983: One Singular Sensation
There are 17 of them up on the bare stage—chorus dancers, known as “gypsies” in musical theater lingo. They audition, then wait, wait some more…most are sent home empty-handed. This trying experience was captured by a young dancer/choreographer (and former gypsy) named Michael Bennett. Bennett took the audition process and added a slew of talented singer/dancer hopefuls and a fabulous score by Marvin Hamlisch.

The show’s minimal sets and costumes kept the audience’s focus right where it should be: on the singing and the dancing as each character sings and shares his or her story about how they wound up at the audition. Sometimes funny, always moving, the show’s cinema-like staging includes jumps from one character to another, stage dissolves, and close-ups.
Broadway, Musicals, Art Venues, Theater

The John F. Kennedy Center

Arts Days: September 08, 1971: America’s Home for the Arts
In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation to build a national cultural center in Washington, D.C. Yet in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Congress decided that the center would be a “living memorial” to our 35th president, who had worked tirelessly to elevate the role of the arts in America.

Opening night saw the debut performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, written in memory of the fallen president; other performers included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Berkshire Boys Choir. Since that night, the Center has welcomed and entertained millions as the finest performers from around the globe have graced its multiple stages. In addition, its Education Department touches more than 11 million young people, teachers, and parents each year.
Architecture, Art Venues, Backstage, Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance, Dance Legends, America, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Opera, Theater

Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

Arts Days: August 02, 1932: Peter the Great
No matter how many leading stage and screen roles he’s portrayed, Peter O’Toole is best recognized as the title character in David Lean’s 1963 screen classic, Lawrence of Arabia. In this epic adventure film, O’Toole plays the title character, T.E. Lawrence, a British national torn during World War I between his allegiance to the crown and the bonds he forms with Sherif Ali and other Arabs.

O’Toole’s performance, coupled with stunning cinematography and a soaring soundtrack, riveted audiences and catapulted him to worldwide fame. Whether appearing in a drama, comedy, romance, or even musical, O’Toole impresses critics and fans alike with his larger-than-life insight and intelligence.
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Jessica Tandy in A Streetcard Named Desire

Arts Days: December 03, 1947: Passion Play
The great American playwright and 1979 Kennedy Center Honoree Tennessee Williams took home the Pulitzer Prize for this Southern Gothic play. Elia Kazan directed the young newcomer Marlon Brando and the veteran Jessica Tandy in the iconic roles of Stanley Kowalski and his sister-in-law Blanche DuBois, whose violence-laced attraction to one another drives much of the action.

Blanche, a frail, helpless relic of the Old South, has come to New Orleans to seek refuge in her sister’s home, only to face psychological and sexual clashes with Stanley. As the play unfolds, the audience witnesses Blanche’s slow descent into insanity. After completing the show's run on Broadway, both Tandy and Brando enjoyed illustrious acting careers; Kazan not only went on to direct the 1951 movie version of Streetcar, but was also named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1983.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Controversial

Lillian Russell

Arts Days: November 22, 1880: Broadway’s Beauty
In the late 1870s, 18-year-old Helen Louise Leonard arrived in New York City in the hopes of becoming an opera star. After a bit role in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the beautiful blonde singer was discovered by theatre owner Tony Pastor. He changed her name and introduced her on opening night as “Lillian Russell, the English Ballad Singer.”

Russell’s gorgeous soprano and voluptuous figure earned her the nickname “America’s Beauty,” and she kept the press busy with her penchant for living life to the fullest. Russell starred in more than 24 musical comedies, many of which were written expressly for her. While none of her musicals are performed today, Lillian Russell is still remembered as one of the early 20th century’s most important Broadway stars.
Broadway, Theater, America, Musicals, Opera, Music Legends, Music

Viola Spolin

Arts Days: November 07, 1906: Play Acting
As an actress, director, and drama teacher, Viola Spolin used simple skits and other exercises to train actors to perform in believable ways. Her methodology formed the core of what we call “improv” today. Improv wasn’t originally focused on comedy, but evolved over time and today is generally defined as comic skits made up on the spur of the moment.

Watch a performance by acclaimed Chicago-based theater group, Second City, and see improv in rapid-fire action. Spolin, the “Grandmother of Improv,” helped devise ways for actors to warm up, focus, play, and make the connections needed to be spontaneous and hilarious.
Comedy, Innovators & Pioneers, Theater, America

William Shakespeare

Arts Days: November 01, 1604 and 1611: A Double Bill of Will
Was this William Shakespeare’s lucky day or just a coincidence that two of his best known plays premiered on the first day of the 11th month, seven years apart? Each play was first presented to King James I at the Palace of Whitehall, the decades-old main residence of the kings and queens of England.

It was customary for any new works to first be seen by the monarch and his court before any presentation to the general public. It is likely that for many years after these two debuts, both plays were indeed performed for the general public at playhouses like The Rose and The Globe. The demand for such entertainment was so great that chances are the ink was barely dry on the page when the first productions were mounted.
Shakespeare, Playwrights & Plays, Tragedy, Europe, Theater

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy

Arts Days: July 18, 1911: An Actor's Actor
This 1986 Kennedy Center Honoree made many movies, a number of which alongside his wife Jessica Tandy. On more than one occasion, Cronyn also directed as well as acted in plays with Tandy. It was clearly the couple’s rich onstage and onscreen chemistry that made them a pleasure to watch.

Cronyn also enjoyed a successful career as a stage actor, playing roles in works by Shakespeare, Edgar Albee, and many others. Whether as Arthur Keats in The Postman Always Rings Twice or Joe in Cocoon, Cronyn was able to disappear into his roles creating many multi-layered, complex human characters.
Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

George Bernard Shaw

Arts Days: July 26, 1856: Voice of the People
Hmmm… could the fact that George Bernard Shaw started out as a newspaper arts critic have something to do with his interest in expressing his political and philosophical opinions freely?

In his 60 some plays, Shaw always found a way to criticize social mores by poking holes in the conventions of 19th century life. Pygmalion, upon which the smash Broadway musical My Fair Lady would later be based, examines class differences, while Major Barbara considers whether it is right to use money earned from the sales of weapons for charitable purposes.

Some of these satirical themes generated controversy among early theatergoers, but Shaw didn’t care. “My way of joking is to tell the truth,” he once said. Shaw’s “joking” earned him both a Nobel Prize for Literature and an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay for My Fair Lady.
Literature, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Playbill

Arts Days: July 06, 1934: Get With the Program
Go to any theater on Broadway, in Miami, or even St. Louis, and you’ll probably be handed a copy of Playbill. Part program description of the play you are about to see, part theater magazine, Playbill was first called the Strauss Magazine Theater Program, after its creator Frank Vance Strauss.

In 1884, Strauss started a company that created programs tailored to shows. It featured restaurant ads, feature articles on famous directors, and other related material. These days you can subscribe to the magazine, as well as have one customized for any given show. It lists the actors, the parts they play and their work in other shows, as well as the sequence of events that will take place on the stage.
Backstage, Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Neil Simon

Arts Days: July 04, 1927: Simon Says, “Laugh”
Playwright Neil Simon is perhaps the person most responsible for celebrating the comic craziness of New York City with his entertaining stories of human trials, tribulations, and, of course, neuroses. In plays such as Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and more, Simon invented characters you simply can’t forget—whether they’re caught in hilarious situations or heartbreaking ones.

His valentine to New York aside, Simon is also the writer who has done the most to capture on the page and on the stage what it’s like to be a 20th century Jewish American, like himself. A nominee for 17 Tony Awards® and the recipient of three, Simon was also a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995.

Oh, and one more thing. In 1966, Simon is the only playwright to have four productions on Broadway running simultaneously.
Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Broadway, Comedy

Arthur Laurents

Arts Days: July 14, 1918: From Brooklyn to Broadway
Arthur Laurents, the playwright and lyricist who wrote the book for West Side Story, one of the world’s most beloved musicals, had another source in mind when he conceived of the tragic tale of Maria and Tony. He was thinking of Shakespeare and his play, Romeo and Juliet, and this pair of lovers whose family conflicts stand in the way of their feelings for one another.

Though the theme wasn’t new, Laurents set his characters’ love affair in an urban setting, with rival gangs standing in for the families Shakespeare had put at odds. Laurents worked closely with composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim to create the Broadway version of West Side Story.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Musicals, Theater, Shakespeare

Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Stephen Sondheim

Arts Days: March 22, 1930 and 1948: Two of a Kind
If you displayed the pages of music written by these two legendary Broadway composers who share a birthday, it would stretch around the block many times over—sort of like the crowds standing in line at their shows. Sondheim’s brought us Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, and Sunday in the Park with George, among others. He also wrote the breakthrough lyrics for West Side Story, which premiered in 1957 and marked his big break.

For his part, Lloyd Webber has no less musical theater credentials. In Cats and Phantom of the Opera, his songs “Memory” and “The Music of the Night,”  plus “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar, showcase Webber’s standard composing style, which melds together elements of rock, jazz, pop, and classical music.
Broadway, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Composers, Theater

John Kander

Arts Days: March 18, 1927: Razzmatazz On Broadway
Along with lyricist Fred Ebb, the composer John Kander created some of the most memorable tunes you’ll ever hum. Like “New York, New York”—Kander came up with that unforgettable melody and Ebb added the words. The men also collaborated on the musicals Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and others. Together they understood the conventions of musical theater better than just about anyone.

But it wasn’t always that way. Kander wrote the music for a show called A Family Affair in 1962. Kander clicked with the show’s producer Harold Prince, who thought he was a terrific musician and hired him and Ebb to write the music and lyrics for Flora, the Red Menace. In 1966, their work on Cabaret led to the Tony Award® for Best Musical. For nearly five decades, Kander and Ebb were the longest running musical/lyricist partnership in Broadway history.
Backstage, Broadway, Composers, Music, Musicals, Music Legends, Theater

The King and I

Arts Days: March 29, 1951: Culture Clash
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had collaborated on five other musicals, including The Sound of Music, by the time they turned out the words and music for The King and I. The musical starred Gertrude Lawrence as Anna, an Englishwoman hired by the King of Siam (today we call it Thailand), to teach reading, writing, and speaking English—to his children.

King Mongkut was played by Yul Brynner, a Russian actor who shaved his head for the stage role. Tackling a range of complex issues, from cultural clashes to gender roles, The King and I included the well-known “Getting to Know You,” a touching song about making new friends. The show ultimately went on to win the Tony Award® for Best Musical.
Broadway, Musicals, Theater, Popular Culture

Tennessee Williams

Arts Days: March 26, 1911: For Dreamers Only
Stanley Kowalski, Amanda Wingfield, Big Daddy, and Blanche Dubois are only a few of the memorable stage characters created by Tennessee Williams, one of America’s greatest playwrights. Born Thomas Lanier Williams, his brutish, traveling salesman father and traditional, Southern belle of a mother provided all the necessary emotional turmoil Williams needed to fuel his plays. No wonder Williams chose to write about people who are emotionally crippled by hypocrisy and illusion, lies and denial.

It was while waiting tables in New York in 1944 that Williams got his lucky break. The Glass Menagerie, his play about the complex relationships within the dysfunctional Wingfield household, opened to rave reviews. Williams followed with A Streetcar Named Desire, his highly-charged encounter between a woman haunted by her past and her crude, confrontational, working-class brother-in-law.
Playwrights & Plays, Controversial, Theater

Spotlight

Arts Days: March 16, 1912: Electrifying Art
It can be easy to overlook the role that lighting plays during a ballet or theatrical production, but you’d be surprised at how much a performance’s lighting design contributes to our enjoyment of it. From how well we are able to see the action to the emotions we feel as we watch, Jean Rosenthal helped make the position of lighting designer more important than it had been.

In her work lighting dance performances for Martha Graham and plays for Orson Welles, she not only used lights to illuminate the action for the audience, but to set the mood, advance the plot, or underscore the importance of certain characters. Nowadays, lighting designers work closely with the director and actors to figure out how to use light effectively before, during, and after a show. And, if you’ve seen a dancer or singer standing in a diagonal shaft of light during a big solo, you’re seeing a bit of Rosenthal’s influence at work.
Backstage, Dance, Innovators & Pioneers, Jobs in the Arts, Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Masks

Arts Days: March 05, 984 B.C.E.: Party Hearty
If you ever go back in time, ask the ancient Greeks to throw you a crazy party.  For example, the Greeks spent every spring celebrating their god of fertility, Dionysus, in a festival called—you guessed it—the Dionysia, which was especially big in Athens. Entire towns would drop everything to dance, tell stories, and drink lots of wine.

Somewhere along the way, a man named Thespis thought it would interesting to act out the stories that were always told at these gatherings; he is thought to be the first person to ever appear on a stage pretending to be someone else and speaking lines of a play. In other words, he may well have been history’s first actor, though we will never know for sure. In time, the Dionysia was a place where both sad plays (tragedies) and funny ones (comedies) were performed for and enjoyed by a crowd of thousands.
Greece, Theater, Tragedy, History, Geography

Elizabeth Taylor

Arts Days: February 27, 1932: The Eyes Have It
Her striking beauty was undeniable and unmistakable, thanks to her piercing violet eyes and a double set of lashes. (Once, as a child actor, a director told her to “take off that mascara,” only to learn that her thick lashes were in fact real!) Not just a pretty face though, this 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree is a quintessential Hollywood legend.

As a young girl, Taylor moved to the United States and began acting, immediately turning studio heads with her lead performance in National Velvet. Her career skyrocketed and she went on to break film ground in movies including Butterfield 8, Cleopatra, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Over the course of more than 50 films and two Academy Awards® for Best Actress, Taylor radiated Hollywood glamour. Her lasting legacy also includes her advocacy and humanitarian work in the fight against AIDS.
Theater, Movies & Movie Stars

Vaudeville Theatre

Arts Days: February 28, 1883: Make ’em Laugh, Make ’em Cry
Vaudeville was a type of variety show with a bunch of back-to-back quick skits: A singing, tap-dancing man up first, then a dog riding a bike, then a few folks doing a comedy routine. And on and on for hours. If you could spin plates, sing well, or imitate various animal sounds, you, too, might have wanted to jump up on stage!

At its peak, thousands and thousands of performers worked the vaudeville circuit—a series of shows held at venues around North America. With everything from Yiddish theater to minstrel shows and contortionists to jugglers on the bill, vaudeville showcased the cultural diversity of 20th century America.

But vaudeville could not compete with the “moving picture show”—the form of entertainment we now call movies. Vaudeville shows went into a steep decline as movies became more popular.
America, Art Venues, Musicals, Theater, Comedy

Minstrel show

Arts Days: February 06, 1843: Minstrel Stage Debut
As a uniquely American form of musical entertainment in the 19th century, minstrel shows would shock most people today for the racist caricatures they exploited. White performers uses burnt cork to darken their faces and hands, mocked black people as lazy and ignorant, and, pretending to be slaves working for white masters, danced and sang songs about life on the plantation.

On this day, at the Bowery Theater, the Virginia Minstrels—four performers led by Dan Emmett—performed what’s considered to have been the first full-length minstrel show, or “minstrelsy."
Controversial, Theater, Musicals, America

Our Town

Arts Days: February 04, 1938: Our Town Hits the Big City
So you’re sitting in a darkened theater watching actors play their parts on stage, talking to one another, while paying absolutely no attention to the spectators. Suddenly, one of them turns and speaks directly to you, the audience. A bit startling, isn’t it?

This technique is called “breaking the fourth wall,” and it was used to great effect by the Stage Manager character in Our Town, a play Thornton Wilder wrote that explored life in a small New England town. The Stage Manager comments to the audience on the words and actions of other characters like Emily Webb and George Gibbs.

When rave reviews poured in, Wilder was delighted that his play, which turned many theatrical conventions on their heads, was a success. His bittersweet message that the beauty of even the mundane details of life is all too fleeting has been heard all the way to the balcony and beyond.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Death of a Salesman

Arts Days: February 10, 1949: The Death of a Dream
When the curtain rose at the Morasco Theater this night, Broadway audiences were introduced to Willy Loman, a middle-aged traveling salesman, on the verge of a breakdown.

All too aware that he is at the end of his career, Loman takes stock of the work he’s done, the money he’s made, the relationships he’s formed—and finds that much of it leaves him feeling defeated and disappointed. With actor Lee J. Cobb starring as Loman, and Elia Kazan directing the play, viewers sadly watched as Willy is forced to recognize himself as a failure.

In its review, The New York Times noted that Miller “has looked with compassion into the hearts of some ordinary Americans and quietly transferred their hope and anguish to the theater.” Today, Miller’s play is studied in schools across the country.
Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Controversial, Theater, Tragedy

James Earl Jones

Arts Days: January 17, 1931: The Man with the Velvet Voice
It's hard to believe but actor James Earl Jones--known for his smooth, deep basso voice--once suffered from a severe stutter.

At college, where he planned to study medicine, Jones enrolled in acting lessons to conquer his speech impediment. A stunning improvement gave Jones an appetite for further theatrical experiences and he switched his focus to theater. After graduation, he moved to New York City to pursue acting, supporting himself with behind-the-scenes manual labor jobs.

In 1957, Jones made his Broadway debut, which caught the attentions of both stage and film directors and launched him to star status. In 1969, he won a Tony Award for The Great White Hope, and garnered an Oscar nomination for the film adaptation. He won a second Tony Award in 1987 for his work in Fences, and was also a 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree.
Broadway, Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Romeo and Juliet

Arts Days: January 29, 1595: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet was and remains one of the English playwright's most popular works. The story of the young, "star-cross'd" lovers from feuding families premiered on this day in 1595 at The Theatre, performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

That’s right, the acting company was made up entirely of men, so roles like Juliet, the nurse, and Juliet's mother were given to actors who could muster high, feminine voices. Women were not permitted to take the stage in England until the beginning of the 17th century.
Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Tragedy, Theater

Harold Prince

Arts Days: January 30, 1928: Theater Royalty is Born
Harold Prince, American theater producer and director, is associated with many of the best known Broadway musicals of the 20th century.

Born on this day in New York, NY, Prince landed his first job out of college in the office of legendary theater mogul George Abbott. Under Abbott's guidance, he learned the craft of creating original musical theater productions.

Prince co-produced a number of popular musicals in the 1950s and 60s including The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and Cabaret. In the 1970s, he met composer Stephen Sondheim and almost exclusively produced all of Sondheim's musicals.

In 1976, Prince directed his first of many operas for the New York City Opera. Since then he has directed two of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera. Prince has received 21 Tony Awards, more than any other individual, for his work as both a producer and director.
Broadway, Innovators & Pioneers, Musicals, Theater

Gladiators Fighting

Arts Days: January 01, 404 C.E.: The Day the Crowd Went Silent

Believe it or not, the ancient Roman practice of pitting professional fighters against one another, wild animals, or condemned criminals for the viewing pleasure of a live audience, is considered one of civilization's earliest forms of social entertainment.

The first known gladiatorial competitions were held in Italy in 310 C.E. to impress the public with reenactments of exciting military battles and demonstrations of individual soldiers' strengths.

Over time, the games evolved into a much more elaborate spectacle. The games were popular with members of all social classes, prompting the construction of a new, larger kind of venue--the amphitheatre, or open air arena--a design still used today.

But hold on, not everyone appreciated the gore-filled competitions. Christians objected to the immorality of the viewers who happily observed the violence. Nearing the fall of the Empire, when numerous wars led to an economic recession and Christianity continued to spread, gladiatorial games began to decline.

After the last known gladiatorial competition was held on this day in Rome, Italy, audiences turned their attention to theater performances.
Controversial, Sports, Theater, World Cultures

Circus

Arts Days: January 09, 1768: Send in the Clowns
Though acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists, and trained animals all existed before the modern circus, they’d never been under the same roof until Englishman Philip Astley, a former cavalry sergeant major, discovered his ability to perform stunts while standing atop his horse's back.

Realizing his talent’s potential entertainment value, he drew a ring in the ground and invited the public to witness his daring act. His display proved to be popular and Astley readily hired other trick riders, as well as clowns, and musicians to join his show. He built a roof over the ring, which he named Astley's Amphitheatre. Over the next thirty years, Astley took his show on the road and established 18 other circuses in major European cities.
Inventions, Art Venues, Innovators & Pioneers, Stunts & Special Effects, Animals, Europe, Popular Culture, Theater

Arthur Miller

Arts Days: June 21, 1956: Just Said “No”
Sitting in the hot seat before the U.S. Congress’ House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), playwright Arthur Miller was pressed to reveal his alleged ties to Communists. Or at least to name people Miller considered sympathetic to Communism and the Soviet Union.

Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible, ostensibly about the 17th century Salem witch trials, raised eyebrows among senators like Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was also suspicious of where Miller’s sympathies lay, knowing that the playwright had attended several meetings of the Communist party in the 1940s. McCarthy and others were on high alert for Communists thought to have infiltrated the government, the arts, and other institutions in the U.S.

Miller, one of numerous writers, actors, and others suspected of having Communist ties, refused to identify anyone and was ultimately convicted of holding Congress in contempt.
Controversial, Playwrights & Plays, History, Theater

Ice Capades

Arts Days: June 16, 1940: Theater on Ice
There was a time when seeing an Ice Capades show was the hottest ticket in town for a family night out. The show featured Olympic skaters and other national champions acting out plays, TV shows, and other stories in elaborate costumes and on skates.

It all started when a group of ice arena managers noticed how much applause the ice-skating demonstrations between hockey segments generated. On this day, Ice Capades mounted its first show in New Orleans. Skating stars of the day were along for the ride on this debut tour of 40 cities across the U.S. As children flocked to these shows with their parents, demand for ice-skating lessons surged. Still, with so much competition for leisure-time activities and dollars, the show’s popularity faded.
Theater, Popular Culture, Stunts & Special Effects

Globe Theatre

Arts Days: June 29, 1613: Global Warming
Before it went up in smoke, most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted at The Globe located just outside London’s city limits. The building, erected in 1599 by Shakespeare’s theater company, is probably the best known theater of the Elizabethan era.

With room for about 3,000 people, the Globe had a stage at one end and a couple of areas for viewing the plays: covered balconies with seats for the wealthy, and bare ground for those who didn’t have much money but were willing to stand up for the duration of the show (the standing folks were called “groundlings”).

The Globe had its own motto: “The whole world is a playhouse,” which might sound a little bit familiar. That’s probably because Shakespeare adapted this motto for As You Like It when he wrote the lines, “All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players.”
Art Venues, Shakespeare, Theater, Playwrights & Plays

Oliver

Arts Days: June 30, 1960: The Boy Who Asked for More
Drawing on themes and characters Charles Dickens created in his 1838 novel Oliver Twist, composer Lionel Bart wrote the words and music to a stage version of the story, which he called Oliver!

Dickens’s book was about Oliver, a lonely orphan boy, the adults who abused him with too much work and too little compassion, and a few kind people he meets along the way. Despite the serious subject matter, the infectious melodies of songs like Food, Glorious Food and Consider Yourself became lodged in listeners’ memories. In fact, Oliver’s modest request for more porridge—“Please sir, I want some more”—became one of the best-known lines to go straight from Dickens’s pen to Bart’s libretto.

Ultimately, Oliver’s happy escape from a cruel life to a happy one with his long-lost grandfather, delighted audiences.
Broadway, Musicals, Theater, Literature

The Musical Grease!

Arts Days: June 07, 1972: Grease is the Word
Nobody thought that a musical about a bunch of working-class 1950s high school kids known as “greasers”—obsessed with fast cars, rock and roll, and each other—would go on to shatter Broadway records for the longest-running show. But it did and 3,388 performances later, Grease was still the word on everyone’s lips. Audiences followed the antics of a cute couple named Danny and Sandy and their pals as they sang and danced through summer-fling memories, teenage disappointments, and promises of eternal friendship.

The play, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, was loosely based on their own high school experiences and touched on some hard-hitting themes like gang rivalry and teenage pregnancy. But it was the music that had audiences dancing in the aisles and lining up to buy tickets year after year.
Broadway, Musicals, Popular Culture, Rock & Roll, Theater

Anne Frank

Arts Days: June 12, 1942: History in Her Own Words
Anne Frank’s diary, kept while her family was in hiding from the Nazis during World War II, is one of the most heartbreaking narratives to emerge from the Holocaust. Her journal is by turns funny, sad, and hopeful.

She received the diary on this day, her 13th birthday, and immediately began recording her innermost thoughts, as well as the astonishing story of her family’s hidden apartment in a building in Amsterdam. Through the unbearable tension of nearly two years, when the hidden occupants had to stay utterly quiet so the workers below would not grow suspicious, Anne Frank’s diary was a rare source of comfort for her.

She and her family were discovered in August 1944; all but her father perished in Nazi concentration camps.
History, Literature, Europe, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

Shuffle Along

May 23: May 23, 1921: Breaking Broadway’s Barriers
The early 20th century ragtime and jazz musicians Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle had a major hit on their hands when they co-wrote Shuffle Along, the first major Broadway musical by, for, and about African Americans. All told, the show ran for more than 500 performances. It played in Washington, D.C. and other locales before lighting up Broadway, where police were assigned on show nights to help ease traffic congestion.

Shuffle Along also made stars of dancers like Josephine Baker and singers like Paul Robeson. Many songs became popular hits. But by today’s standards, some aspects of Shuffle Along are offensive. For example, though the actors were all African American, they applied makeup to their faces to darken them further, and borrowed stock characters from minstrel shows. As the show’s popularity spread by word of mouth, the audiences were filled with black and white theater patrons alike.
Broadway, Innovators & Pioneers, Musicals, Jazz, Controversial, Theater

Orson Welles

Arts Days: May 06, 1915: A Reel Visionary
Whether directing films or acting on stage, George Orson Welles’s theatrical talents were unsurpassed. It probably helped that he was a creative child: He painted, played the piano, and performed magic tricks.

When Welles was a young man, important connections advanced his career. Playwright Thornton Wilder introduced Welles to directors who gave him his first stage roles. He also made a name for himself writing, acting in, and directing radio plays. His radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938 terrified listeners convinced that aliens were actually invading our planet. And then there were movies like Citizen Kane and many others now deemed American classics.

Welles also pioneered new filming techniques, such as using “deep space,” in which scenes in both the foreground and background stayed in focus. Using this method, action can take place in two parts of a single frame. He also would place the camera near the floor to shoot up at a person so he appeared to loom above, larger than life.
America, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater, Movies & Movie Stars

Katharine Hepburn

Arts Days: May 12, 1907: Kate the Great
For the woman who carried home the Oscar® for Best Actress more times than any other, four times out of 12 nominations, Katharine Hepburn’s first forays into acting weren’t always successful.

She began acting in college plays from which she was fired more than once for stumbling over her lines. But her athleticism, beauty, and emerging talent got her noticed, and she soon began landing small roles. Big parts in Little Women, Bringing Up Baby, Woman of the Year, and other critical and commercial hits raised Hepburn to the level of Hollywood royalty, even as she shunned Hollywood’s glitz.

When she died at 96 years of age, the lights on Broadway went dim for an hour in honor of the woman many now deem one of the greatest actors of all time.
America, Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Thornton Wilder

Arts Days: April 17, 1897: An American Wordsmith
His works are read and his plays performed around the world, but when Thornton Wilder started writing stories as a kid, he never dreamt he’d be an icon of American literature one day. While his seminal three-act play Our Town is arguably his best-loved work, with its timeless depiction of life and loss in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, other plays including The Skin of Our Teeth and the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey are also literary classics (all three works netted Wilder Pulitzer Prizes for Literature).

He also revisited and tinkered with old works from time to time. For example, he reworked his play The Merchant of Yonkers into The Matchmaker, which in 1964 hit the Broadway stage as Hello Dolly!, running for 2,844 performances.
Playwrights & Plays, America, Literature, Theater

William Shakespeare

Arts Days: April 23, 1564: All the World’s His Stage
The most famous playwright the world has ever seen, William Shakespeare created unforgettable characters and stories in language so rich that the words move “trippingly on the tongue” (at least that’s how Hamlet put it).

His tragedies, such as King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth; comedies like Twelfth Night and As You Like It; and history plays, such as Henry V, thrive centuries later in part because they are filled with characters who make the same kinds of choices and face the same kinds of problems people everywhere do: broken hearts, office politics, family stuff.

Shakespeare’s 37 plays and 154 sonnets, basically a love poem, are really fun to read aloud. That’s because Shakespeare worked puns, jokes, and insults right into the text. Strangely, little is known about Shakespeare’s life.
Shakespeare, Playwrights & Plays, Innovators & Pioneers, Theater

Marlon Brando and Man

Arts Days: April 03, 1924: The Godfather of Acting
Though he never cared for the glitz and glitter of fame, few would question that Marlon Brando was perhaps the most accomplished actor of his day—or of any period since movie making began. While studying at the Actor’s Studio in New York City, Brando adopted the “method acting approach,” where he disappeared into the fictional characters he was asked to portray.

His unforgettable performances including Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire or Vito Corleone in The Godfather, stuck with viewers long after the movies ended because of Brando’s believable performances. A rebel by reputation, Brando was described by some directors and fellow actors as difficult to get along with while other colleagues said he was funny, generous, and professional. But his reputation didn’t stop him from racking up awards, including winning two Academy Awards® and being nominated for eight.
Movies & Movie Stars, Popular Culture, Theater

Samuel Beckett

Arts Days: April 13, 1906: Post-Modern Poster Boy
Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett is considered the first Post-modernist writer. He explored some pretty bleak subjects in works like Waiting for Godot and Krapp’s Last Tape including loneliness, hopelessness, and isolation. His work attracted considerable attention in his day—and even still—for often tossing all conventions of character development and plot, even punctuation, straight out the window.

Some of his works attempted to capture the inner thoughts and feelings of his characters second by second. Beckett combined words and ideas in such innovative ways that he earned the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. But because Beckett was such a private person, the fame that accompanied this honor was a double-edged sword.
Controversial, Playwrights & Plays, Europe, Theater

Theater collage

Article: It's Not Just a Stage
How to find your way around a theater, onstage and off
Backstage, Art Venues, Theater

Night Train 57

Cuesheet: Night Train 57: A Sensory-Friendly Folk Opera
All aboard the Night Train! Enter the freewheeling musical world of Grammy® winner Dan Zanes, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Claudia Eliaza, and more special guests for an interactive folk opera that takes audiences on a far-out ride to the galaxies and back. During a joyous dusk-to-dawn trip through the stars, passengers on Night Train 57 will discover the power of friendship and community with the sounds of 21st century handmade sing-along music.
Theater, Music, Musical Instruments, Accessibility

Grey Skies Blue

Cuesheet: Grey Skies Blue: Performed by SHAPESHIFT Theatrical
A young woman is forced to confront her past when her estranged mother suddenly appears at her doorstep. Two lifelong friends face a journey of cultural and self-identity together. A promising relationship is jeopardized by deception. Can any of them trust their friends or companions? And how well do they truly know themselves?
Theater, Accessibility, Dance

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Educators: Educators Portal
Standards-based instructional resources, how-to's, guides and other supports for teaching with the arts
Education, Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts

Me... Jane

Cuesheet: Me... Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall
In this brand new musical adaptation, join young Jane and her special friend as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, this adaptation makes this very true story accessible for the young—and young at heart.
Theater, Accessibility, Africa, Animals, Geography, Innovators & Pioneers, Science

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