American Theatre
Soon after the American Revolution, Americans began their expansion to the west.

It was our Manifest Destiny to tame the wilds of the west and expand our nation
from coast to coast. Families from all over would load up their belongings and
travel to the newly purchased lands. People from New York, Philadelphia, Boston
and all parts of the new nation brought with them their language, culture and
belief systems. Along with this they also brought the theater. It was not long
after people would begin to live in an area that the theater would take root.

The progress of the theater in the United States can be traced along the same
routes as the settlement of the west. Beginning on the east coast with early
colonies the theater was carried with our ancestors to their new homes in the
west. From St. Louise to Kansas City, from Kansas City to California and all
parts in between. Horace Greeley said "Go west young man" and the
theater followed. In 1492 Christopher Columbus left Azones on a trip to discover
a western sea route to the Orient. Seventy days later Columbus made land fall on
what he thought was an outlying portion of Asia. Columbus would go to his death
believing he had landed in Asia, he was wrong. Although he did open up a new
world for Europeans to expand their culture into.(Billington 15) Thought many
early attempts where made to settle this new land. Most ended in disaster. In

1620 however, 128 years after Columbus made his brave but mistaken discovery of
the new world, the pilgrims set out to make a permanent settlement in America.

They put a shore in what is now called Massachusetts and formed a thriving, self
governed colony.(Billington 57) 10 years later, John Wintrope brings 1000
colonist and founds the city of Boston. Wintropes British settlement had not
been in the new world long, in fact less than a year, when they discovered that
the Dutch had formed their own nearby settlement. The Dutch called their town

New Amsterdam. This caused immediate competition and rivalry between the
settlements.(Billington 60) After a war with the Dutch the city of New Amsterdam
came into the possession of the British Empire and King Charles the Second. King

Charles had newly been restored to the throne of England after a long forced
vacation on the mainland of Europe. As a reward to those who supported his
return, he annexed New Amsterdam and renamed it New York and gave large portions
of it to his most loyal supporters.(Billington 67) In the ensuing years many

English colonist came to the new world setting up towns and cities all along the

Atlantic coast line. It is in these towns and cities that we see European
culture, especially English culture, being planted in the new world. With this
new culture being brought to this new and untamed land it is natural that the
forms of entertainment would also not be far behind. The lands of the new world
where now fertile for the seed of the theater. In 1716 we have records of a
theater being built in Willamsburg Virginia. This is probable the first theater
built in the Americas. While there where probable plays and some small
theatrical productions being done earlier, this is our first ever record of a
building being built for this specific purpose.(Hornblow) We know that in New

York in 1752, the Hallams performed the Merchant of Venice. We also know that
the Hallams used a theater that was build for use by Murray and Kean who had a
troupe who had performed the same play along with Richard the III many years
earlier. (Hornblow) So theater came early to the Americas but was contained to
the coastal areas much like the colonies where. It would take the formation of a
new country and an expansion of the boarders of this new country to help theater
on its western trek across the great expanses of North America. Caused by what
they believed was an erosions of their natural rights and being governed with
out representation The colonies in America decided to take a bold move and break
their ties with their English masters. This of course was not well received by
the King of England and what is known as the American Revolution ensued. In 1775
in Lexington and Concord fighting broke out between American Colonist and

English Troops. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress signed a
document that had been penned by Thomas Jefferson.