Tales from the Vault: The Season

Posted on Oct 4th, 2012 in OSF Archives

The Audience Cometh

As we enter the 70th anniversary year of our auspicious beginning on the 4th of July weekend in 1935, I reflect on where we have come—from three performances of two plays in three days in one theatre to 773 performances of 11 plays in 219 days in three theatres. For many years we performed on summer evenings only, with company members drawn from far-flung colleges for rehearsals and the build, culminating in August productions.

In 1952-53, and again in 1961, Angus Bowmer gathered a “company” to form the Vining Repertory to attract locals, in the off-season, with other playwrights, to the otherwise dark Lithia Theatre up the street (now the site of Washington Mutual). Later in the 1960s musicals of yore were seen at the Varsity Theatre. This increased the audience and ultimately led to the birth of the Angus Bowmer Theatre and matinees in 1970.

In 1975, as a benefit to save Eugene O’Neill’s Tao House, Jerry Turner introduced Long Day’s Journey into Night to evening viewers and enticed audiences to fill both the Elizabethan and Angus Bowmer Theatres with shows playing opposite each other. Thus, a true repertory company was born. We soon were bursting at the seams with a new capacity and the Black Swan was enlisted for service with full stage productions in 1977.

By 1979 the longer, uninterrupted season, close to what we have today, merged together from Stage II, Summer, and Fall seasons. We also instituted dark Mondays. Gradually, performances per day increased.

Written originally for The Company Call, January 2005, by Kit Leary.