1900 Sarah Bernhardt and Benoit Constant Coquelin open for a five-week engagement, in French, at the Garden Theatre in New York. Bernhardt plays Camille, Tosca, Roxanne, and, in a burst of early non-traditional casting, two "breeches" roles, Hamlet and L'Aiglon (Napoleon).
1909 Eugene Ionesco is born in Slatina, Romania today. Ionesco will be remembered for his founding of the Theatre of the Absurd, a school of thought which abolished realistic and psychological theatre. Rhinoceros and The Chairs are just two of his plays that broke new ground. He died in 1994.
1911 At London's Savoy Theatre, there is a special performance by the Pioneer Players of Laurence Houseman's Pains and Penalties: The Defence of Queen Caroline. It had been banned because it dealt with royalty in an unflattering way.
1930 Rex Harrison makes his London debut as the Hon. Fred Thrippleton in Florence Kilpatrick's Getting George Married at the Everyman Theatre.
1940 Ethel Barrymore plays Miss Moffat in Emlyn Williams' play The Corn Is Green, about a teacher who changes the life of a small Welsh village. It opens at the National Theatre and runs 477 performances.
1999 Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Terry Johnson's Sigmund Freud comedy, Hysteria, directed by John Malkovich, begins performances in Chicago tonight. The play recently got a new lead. Replacing Steppenwolf ensemble member Alan Wilder in the role of the father of psychoanalysis is Yasen Peyankov. Wilder withdrew "for personal reasons." John Malkovich, probably Steppenwolf's most famous member, will direct Hysteria, a comedy about Sigmund Freud's last days in a quiet London suburb. Malkovich, well known to film audiences, rarely takes the stage at Steppenwolf, or elsewhere, anymore, preferring to work behind the scenes.
2002 Off-Broadway's new Little Shubert Theatre on West 42nd Street is inaugurated with the concert show, Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails, in which the long-legged dancer/choreographer/director chats with the audience, and performs some of his favorite pop and movie songs, with the help of the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. The Little Shubert is opened by the Shubert Organization as a viable intimate Off-Broadway venue unto itself, but also a testing ground for possible future Broadway works.
2012 Marty Richards, a stage and film producer who was among the backers of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film of the musical Chicago, and whose Broadway credits included Sweeney Todd, Crimes of the Heart and La Cage aux Folles, dies at age 80.