Pittsburgh Playhouse

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Pittsburgh Playhouse is Point Park University's performing arts center located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It houses three performance spaces and is home to The Rep, Point Park's resident professional theatre company, as well as three student companies—Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory Dance Company, and Playhouse Jr.[1] The Conservatory Theatre Company offers five productions each year that are performed by undergraduate students at Point Park; this season consists of a mixture of established plays and musicals, as well as occasional new works.[2][3]

The Conservatory Dance Company offers ballet, modern, and jazz dance productions featuring Point Park undergraduates; these consist of works by established choreographers as well as new pieces choreographed by both students and professionals.[4][5] The Playhouse, Jr. offers children's theatre performed by Point Park undergraduates; it is the second oldest continually running children's theatre in the United States.[4] Playhouse, Jr. has also participated in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.[6] The Rep offers four productions performed by professional actors; the season usually consists of a mixture of established and new plays.[4][7]

The Rep has hosted regional premieres by such playwrights as Amy Hartman, Tammy Ryan, and Edward J. Delaney.[8][9][10]

History[edit]

The Pittsburgh Playhouse is an iconic symbol for the city’s culture. For over seven decades, this organization transformed for a small time puzzle of fifteen single pieces to a united theater organization that mirrored the community oriented feel and the decadence of Broadway. Broadway and radio actors [actresses] were attracted to the Pittsburgh Playhouse and made appearances in certain shows. The Golden Age of the Pittsburgh Playhouse brought an additional theater and new classes for not only adults but also children, Pittsburgh Playhouse Jr. However, over the years, the organization did face a series of finical hardships that have resulted in the changing of ownership as well as the final proposed plans to move the Pittsburgh Playhouse from its original organization from the 1930s.

Origins[edit]

Prior to the formation of the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the world of theater in the city was faced with a decrease in sales, an economic depression, and a lack of uniformity to attract the masses needed to “keep the lights on”. Over fifteen different theater companies, ranging from burlesque to farce to tragedy, struggled to remain in business within the city. It was not until a proposal to his actress fiancée from the “Pittsburgh culture king”, Richard S. Rauh that an era of cultural boom occurred.[11]

The Rauh family[edit]

The Rauh family had become a huge benefactor of the arts in Pittsburgh. Supporting the funding of the establishment of the Pittsburgh Symphony and a dozen other social/ cultural organizations by his parents, Enoch and Bertha, Richard Rauh was heir to a substantial fortune from him family shirt business. During his time in New York, he had met and fallen in love with an actress, Helen Wayne. Graduating from Carnegie Mellon, with a degree in performance, Helen became the “sweetheart” of the radio as an actress on the weekly show, The Charm Lady. Smitten by her, Rauh had promised to find her a stage to act on if she would not leave for New York. They were married until his death in 1974.[12]

Pittsburgh Civic Playhouse[edit]

Rauh with his reputation as a standing board member of the Pittsburgh Sympathy brought together fifteen different theater companies under one organization: The Pittsburgh Civic Playhouse. This single entity included a group of board members who would oversee the finical and administrative affairs, both hired directors and stage managers, and a cast that would embody the community. Pittsburgh Playhouse was a semiprofessional theater company that was open to the community to perform alongside professional and semiprofessional actors. In December 1934, the first production, Art and Mrs. Bottle, was presented in the newly polished Frick School. Renting a space on Craft, this vacant building would bring in the bringing the company for the next seventy years. [13]Though they received mixed reviews, the Pittsburgh Playhouse would become a known center for supporting the civic culture. After replacing the first director with Fred Burleigh in 1935, the new director would remain with the company for the next thirty years not only bringing in a “golden age” filled with prosperity and professional actors but also expanded into a school and added two new theaters, Craft Avenue and Upstairs Theater, which provided dining services prior and post to the evening show.

Pittsburgh Playhouse Jr.[edit]

The success from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s brought an opportunity to William Leech an instructor for adult amateur actors to instruct children. The additional program to the Pittsburgh Playhouse was Playhouse Jr. Since its creation in 1949, the Playhouse Jr. has remained an educational opportunity for children to receive professional instruction on acting as well as perform on an actual stage.

The ACT[edit]

During the 1960s, the Pittsburgh Playhouse began to struggle with fiscal funding. The economic pressure threatened the continuation of the Playhouse as an independent organization. Forced to join with the American Conservatory Theater, the conglomeration was a short lived six month union. The joint venture between Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh Playhouse, and William Ball was dissolved when Ball moved the ACT to San Francisco. [14]

Point Park[edit]

After years of struggling for proper funding, the Playhouse finally joined partnership with Point Park College in the 1970s. The support of Point Park has enabled the Pittsburgh Playhouse to remain a cultural entity even with the financial setbacks, including the downsizing of much of the tradition of Pittsburgh Playhouse. The company was able to include a ballet company in addition to director’s hour. Recently, as of July 2013, both Point Park College and Pittsburgh Playhouse has announced the relocation of the company to downtown Pittsburgh. [15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "about the playhouse". Pittsburgh Playhouse. October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Conservatory Theatre Company". Pittsburgh Playhouse. October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Point Park's Conservatory Theatre Company Premieres TIME AFTER TIME 2/26-28, 3/11-3/14". Pittsburgh.broadwayworld.com. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Our Companies". Pittsburgh Playhouse. October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Conservatory Dance Co". Pittsburgh Playhouse. October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The New Works Festival has become a must-see event". Post-gazette.com. September 10, 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  7. ^ "The REP". Pittsburgh Playhouse. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ Carter, Alice T. (May 26, 2010). "'Confluence' took decade to go from dream to stage – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Amy Hartman's 'Mercy & the Firefly' takes dysfunction to new heights". Post-gazette.com. April 9, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ "The Umbrella Man – Stage – Theater Reviews & Features – Pittsburgh City Paper". Pittsburghcitypaper.ws. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Pittsburgh Playhouse Collection". Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Pittsburgh Playhouse Collection". Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Pittsburgh Playhouse Collection". Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Pittsburgh Playhouse Collection". Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Pittsburgh Playhouse Collection". Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  • Pittsburgh Playhouse School of the Theater Records [1](Pittsburgh Playhouse School of the Theater Records, 1934-1994, CTC.1981.01, Curtis Theatre Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh)

External links[edit]