American Repertory Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • The title of two US production companies. The first was foundedin 1946 in New York by three actress-directors, Cheryl Crawford (1902 - 86),Eva Le Gallienne (1899 - 1991), and Margaret Webster (1905 - 72)(see Webster family). The company, modelled on LeGallienne's earlier Civic Repertory Company, was not a financial successand closed after one season of six plays given in an old theater onColumbus circle. Webster directed and appeared in the opening productionof Henry VIII, as well as in Barrie's What Every Woman Knows,Shaw's Androcles and the Lion, and Ibsen's John GabrielBorkman.

    The current American Repertory Theatre (ART) is a professionalcompany established in 1979 at Harvard University by Robert Brustein(1927 - ), who had earlier founded the Yale RepertoryTheatre. It is dedicated to performing new US plays, neglected works,and innovative productions of the classics. Leading directors to workwith the ART have included Joanne Akalaitis (1937 - ),Dario Fo, David Mamet, and Robert Wilson (1942 - ).The company's work has often been unconventional. Samuel Beckett threatenedlegal action in 1984 when Akalaitis set his Endgame in an abandonedsubway tunnel. In 1986 Wilson combined Euripides's Alcestiswith a Japanese Kyōgen play and added laser projections.More conventional productions have included the Tony Award-winningmusical Big River (1985), which transferred to Broadway. Diane Paulusbecame the company's artistic director in 2008.

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