Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 16

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 16
 
In 2005, Staceyann Chin opens her solo show, Border/Clash: A Litany of Desires, blending slam poetry, autobiographical story-telling, and political commentary.
Staceyann Chin
Staceyann Chin Monica Simoes

1888 Birthday of Broadway comedian Bobby Clark, best known for his drawn-on eyeglasses and slapstick comedy style, often in tandem with sidekick Paul McCullough. Clark's resume includes Strike Up the Band, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, Star and Garter, Mexican Hayride, and Michael Todd's Peep Show.

1937 When the audience arrives at Maxine Elliott's Theatre for the first public performance of Marc Blitztein's pro-union "labor opera" The Cradle Will Rock, they are informed by director Orson Welles that the government has shut down the WPA Federal Theatre Project production. In response, Welles and producer John Houseman rent the empty Venice Theatre, and the cast and audience march 20 blocks uptown to the new venue. For the performance, Blitzstein plays the piano on a bare stage, Welles narrates the action, and the actors—barred from taking the stage by the president of Actors' Equity—perform their roles from seats in the audience.

1976 Dirty Linen/New-Found-Land, an evening of two one-act plays by Tom Stoppard, opens at London's Arts Theatre following an engagement at the Almost Free Theatre. There are 1,667 performances. A five-month-long Broadway run is launched January 11, 1977, at the John Golden Theatre.

1998 The Argentinian performance piece, De La Guarda, christens New York City's new Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square. The space that was once a bank is home to the show in which audiences stand while they watch the performers suspended above by rope and cable. The performance with music, but no words, takes place entirely in the air. It runs 2,475 performances before closing on September 12, 2004.

2000 Blythe Danner, Charlotte d'Amboise, Terrence Mann, and Bill Irwin head the cast of Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre Festival production of Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30. Six of the original ten one-acts which made up Coward's play are divided into two programs, which are performed in repertory by different casts.

2004 Claudia Shear’s prize-winning tribute to Mae West, Dirty Blonde, sashays into the Duke of York’s Theatre — following a run in Leeds — for its London opening.

2005 Kate Burton is The Constant Wife in Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of the 1926 W. Somerset Maugham comedy. Opening at the American Airlines Theatre, the cast also includes Michael Cumpsty, John Dossett, and Lynn Redgrave.

2005 A Specific Theatre Company's production of Athol Fugard's People Are Living There opens at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street. O'Mara Leary, Larry Silverberg, Ben Rauch, and Emma Myles star.

2005 Staceyann Chin—who appeared in Def Poetry Jam on Broadway—returns to the New York stage with her own new solo Border/Clash: A Litany of Desires. Rob Urbinati directs the work, which blends slam poetry, autobiographical story-telling, and political commentary as Chin paints the journey from her Jamaican childhood through the discovery of her sexual identity and political voice.

2011 A revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Miles, and Douglas Henshall, opens in London at the West End's Comedy Theatre. Ian Rickson directs the play that examines an extramarital affair in backwards chronology.

2019 Wheelhouse Theater Company celebrates the opening of its production of Life Sucks. at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre. Aaron Posner’s “sort of” adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya features Kevin Isola as Vanya, Nadia Bowers as Ella, Kimberly Chatterjee as Sonia, Barbara Kingsley as Babs, Stacey Linnartz as Pickles, Tony nominee Austin Pendleton as The Professor, and Michael Schantz as Dr. Aster.

More of Today's Birthdays: Stan Laurel (1890-1965). Lew Pollack (1895-1946). Jack Albertson (1907-1981). Ilona Massey (1910-1974). Eileen Atkins (b. 1934). Laurie Metcalf (b. 1955). Danny Burstein (b. 1964). Jason Howland (b. 1971). Rajiv Joseph (b. 1974). Willemijn Verkaik (b. 1975). Diana DeGarmo (b. 1987). Ali Stroker (b. 1987).

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