Southern Illinois University

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Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Department of Theater. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Department of Theater.

Historical Note:

Became part of College of Liberal Arts July 1, 1993.

The first dramatic efforts of the University were presented by the Zetetic and Socratic Societies in 1893. These performances under the direction of Henry W. Shryock, a literature professor, were Shakespearean.

In 1914, a dramatics club was organized under Miss Jennie Mitchell, an English instructor. The purpose of the club was to train students in staging and presenting plays. Mae C. Trovillion succeeded Miss Mitchell as director in 1922. The Dramatic Club was renamed "Strut and Fret" after the passage in Shakespeare's Macbeth.'''

In 1932, Miss Julia Jonah took direction of the organization. Three years later "Strut and Fret" was reorganized under a new name, "The Little Theater." Dorothy Magus became director of the Little Theater in 1938, and in 1939 the club received national recognition with its production of Robert Sherwood's The Petrified Forest. Miss Magus remained with the club until 1944.

There were four different directors in the next five years. In 1949, Archibald McLeod, a speech instructor, became director. During the 1955-1956 school year, the name of the Little Theater was changed to the "Southern Players."

In 1932, the Art Department offered a course called Stage Crafts, but the first play production course was offered in 1937-1938 by the English Department. In 1938-1939 the same course was offered by the Division of Speech in the English Department. From that time on, theater courses were offered within the Speech Department. In 1958 Speech and Theater were made separate departments in the School of Communications. Archibald McLeod was named Chair of the first independent Theater Department. A Master of Arts degree in Theater was established in 1972. With the creation of the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, the School of Art, School of Music, Speech Communications, Communication Disorders and Science, and Theater Department moved to the College of Liberal Arts (RG 17).

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