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Theatre in the usa

Puritan prejudice prevented early flourishing of an American theatre.

First Colonial theatre opened at Williamsburg, Va., 1716.

Philadelphia, New York City and Charleston became theatrical centres, mid-18th century.

George Washington lent prestige to legitimate theatre, 1790s,

Touring companies travelled throughout nation, 19th century.

Theatre reached popular peak in the 1890s.

High-quality native drama emerged, 20th century.

Decline of Broadway lamented, 1970s.

Recent years have seen rise of subscription, public and regional theatre, owing partly to Federal financial grafts.

New York City first recorded theatrical performance was given in a large room' in a commercial building in 1732. Philadelphia's waterfront was home to a theatre district from the mid-18th century, with plays performed in the large spaces provided by sail lofts and warehouses. The first full British company to come to America played in 1752, a new theatre that had been built at Williamsburg, and then moved on to New York and Philadelphia.

By the 1750s such well-known British thespians as the Shakespearian actor Thomas Kean had toured the Colonies' largest cities. In 1767 the first full-length play of literary distinction by an American playwright, Thomas Godfrey's, the Prince of Parthia, was produced in Philadelphia's handsome Southward Theatre. That same year New York City saw the first performance in its new John Street Theatre, where President George Washington was later among those regularly in attendance.

By the mid-19th century most of the nations major Western cities had their .own theatres, including New Orleans, St. Lovis, Chicago and San Francisco. Thereafter the West was the scene of continuous theatrical activity as touring companies from Britain and the East regularly visited mining camps, cattle towns and virtually every population centres with more than a few hundred inhabitants. The Stagecoach and the growing network of railroads made it relatively easy for these travelling companies to reach audiences, with a fare varying from Shakespeare to low comedy.

Many of Great 19th century stars who held American audiences spellbound were British or European imports — among the best known being William Macready, Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt. But the 19th century also gave rise to a host of brilliant native-born actors, among them Charlotte Cushman, Laura Keene, Edwin Booth and Minnie Maddern Fiske. Later in the century, when vaudeville became popular, such glamorous singing stars as Lillian Russell attained international celebrity. For those unable to afford the more expensive playhouses there were "10-20-30-cent" theatres, where the audience could enjoy hair-raising melodramas such as East Lynne and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

With the establishment of the Theatre Guild in New York in 1919, performance and production standards on Broadway were raised to a new level. It was during the first half of the 20th century, when an American dramatic literature of consistent high quality developed, that Novel Prize-winning dramatist Eugene O'Neill established himself as the nation's foremost serious playwright. With the end of World War II the Broadway stage entered a new and more introspective period as audiences familiar with the revolutionary psychoanalytical theory flocked to see intensely personal examination of the human condition by such dramatists as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and, in the 1960s, Edward Albee.

At the same time, however, less costly "off-Broadway" productions flourished. Most significant, a trend appeared toward subscription and public theatre at such institutions as New York City's throughout the country. By the mid-1970s many such theatres were receiving financial support from the Federal and state governments or private foundations, or were finding a measure of financial security through associations with universities and the practice of selling season subscriptions to assure audiences. Increasingly the newer generation of American playwrights was finding an outlet for its work in such theatres rather than in the commercial houses of Broadway.

Exercise 1. For each sentence, name the letter of the best answer:

1. In 1732 New York City recorded theatrical performance ________.

  1. in Southward Theatre

  2. in John Street Theatre

  3. in a large room of a commercial building

2.. The first full British company to come to America played in ________.

  1. the New York Theatre built at Williamsburg

  2. the Bowery Theatre in New York

  3. The Alley theatre in Houston

3. In 1767 New York City saw the first performance in _________.

  1. the Lorraine Hausberry Theatre

  2. New John Street Theatre

  3. Provincetown Playhouse in New York

4. Travelling companies had an opportunity to reach American audience owing to ___________.

  1. the fact that the USA native drama had been slow in development

  2. the lack of talented native-bom actors

  3. the growing network of railroads

5. In the 19th century a lot of brilliant American actors and singers ___________.

a)attained international celebrity

  1. captured the attention of audiences touring abroad

  2. made their appearance on the British stage

6. The decade of 1980s saw the return to Broadway Theatre of the established playwrights and introduction of new writing talents such as _________.

  1. William Shakespeare and George Gordon Noel Byron

  2. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Henry Miller

  3. Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neil

7. Nobody would deny that Broadway Theatre ________.

  1. became a touring company

  2. remains a powerful magnet for American finest performance

  3. is the worst theatre one has ever visited

Exercise 2. Explain the following words and phrases as they have been used in the text. Translate them into Ukrainian (Russian):

recorded theatrical performance; well-known British thespians; continuous theatrical activity; touring companies; the growing network of smth.; low comedy; to give rise to a host of brilliant native-born actors; glamorous singing stars; to attain international celebrity; to be unable to afford smth.; hair-raising melodramas; performance and production standards; to be raised to a new level; the nation's foremost serious playwright; (to be) familiar with smth. (smb.); at the same time; less costly "off Broadway" productions; to receive financial support from; to find an outlet for one's work.

Additional text 2

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