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Theatre Club of Burlington

 Collection
Identifier: mss-941

Overview

The Theatre Club was founded in 1921 by a small group of Burlingtonians interested in drama. They wished to help fill the theatrical void which existed outside of New York City by making dramatic literature of the twentieth century available to Vermonters.

Dates

  • 1921-1967

Creator

Access:

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Historical Note

The Theatre Club was founded in 1921 by a small group of Burlingtonians interested in drama. They wished to help fill the theatrical void which existed outside of New York City by making dramatic literature of the twentieth century available to Vermonters. The Club, working from rooms loaned by members, schools and the Y.M.C.A., rehearsed a play for the 1921-1922 season, but no public performance was actually presented until February 2, 1923, when three one act plays were staged in a high school auditorium. The success of this first season got the group off to a strong start, and they accepted an out-of-town engagement in Charlotte for 1924. This was the first in a series of on-the-road performances which would continue for years to come. In 1930 the Theatre Club invited the Dorset Players to come to Burlington for a performance, and in July of that year the Club shared first prize with the Dorset group for their production of "A Sunday Morning" in the Little Theatre Tournament. The Tournament, founded by the Dorset Players in 1928, continued annually until 1941 when World War II scaled down local dramatic endeavors.

Throughout the twenties the Club's activities expanded greatly. With expansion, the need for a more permanent headquarters became more evident, so in 1926 they arranged to rent to old Y.M.C.A. Auditorium. One of the most important activities of the group during this period was the creation of a workshop program for experimental drama. Workshop productions were preformed privately before the club membership at regular meetings. This provided valuable experience and practice for the cast and the membership itself. In 1926 the Club announced a contest for original one act plays by Vermonters. "Philosophy," a play by grace sage of Rutland, received first prize among thirty five entries and was preformed as part of the workshop program.

On February 1, 1928, when the Y.M.C.A. building was destroyed by fire, the Club was forced to make its first of many moves. In the spring of the year, a new headquarters was secured in the Howard Relief Building, and the Club began to replace much of the property destroyed by the fire. The Howard rooms served all the needs of the group except public performances, so they were forced to book local theaters and auditoriums until 1946 when the taft school became their regular home for such events.

In 1942 the Club ceased its activities because of the war, and no regular meetings were held in their headquarter until 1946. After the war, the Theatre Club shared in the "boom," for in 1948 their membership reached 624, highest in their history. The following year they were forced to move a second time when the Howard Relief Building found a need for more space. The group set up temporary headquarters in the University carriage room, and the Fleming Museum made space available for workshop players. Membership ban to decline somewhat in the fifties, and since the budget was increasing, the club was force to make a concerted drive for new members. In April 1952 a motion was passed to drop the workshop program because the productions only reached a small number of people. The time spent on experiment was used to produce another public performance in addition to the usual three. It was hoped that this move would attract new members. In November of the same year, a News letter was published and other publicity was stepped up. A Youth Wing was recruited in the mid-fifties to help swell the membership, create interest among the young, and to train future players. In 1960 the Theatre Club made its final move to the Star Hose rooms at 138 North Winooski avenue. Headquarter remained here until the Club was dissolved in 1968.

Extent

1.6 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact uvmsc@uvm.edu for access.
Title
Guide to the Theatre Club of Burlington, Vermont Records, 1921-1967
Status
Completed
Date
2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)