Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Some 74 years ago, in May of 1941, the start of the summer season in New England was launched with a huge variety of professional summer stock theatre. Part of that endeavor included offering apprentice slots to young people for training in acting and the technical aspects of theatre, for which the students paid a fee and worked hard, sometimes along with the greats from whom they learned. These ads are from Theatre Arts magazine, May 1941.
Katharine Hepburn was one of the players at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut, early in her career, and returned as a visiting star in 1941. Also on the roster that year you see Buddy Ebsen, Ethel Waters, Conrad Nagel, Glenda Farrell, John Beal and others.
The Lake Whalom Theatre was in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and some of their guest stars included Ethel Barrymore, Edward Everett Horton, Gloria Stuart, and Ruth Chatterton.
There were other opportunities with The Nantucket Players on the island, and the Barn Playhouse in New London, New Hampshire, which guaranteed students three speaking parts in professional productions.
These were the day before going to grad school for an MFA in acting. And before the days of television and remote controls and that living room recliner, where the local playhouse was the place to be on a warm summer evening under, and the with, the stars.