Bryn Mawr Plays:
Dramatic Productions at Bryn Mawr College 1889-1920
University students in Europe and England began performing dramatic productions around the middle of the 1500s. Renaissance educators regarded theatre as a tool for teaching rhetoric and the classics. In the eighteenth century, many American schools adopted the tradition. Vassar College had an active dramatic club in 1865 and Philadelphia's popular musical comedy troupe, the Mask and Wig Club, performed for the first time at the University of Pennsylvania in 1889.
The photographs in this exhibition are drawn from the College's photo archives and provide evidence of a long tradition of college drama at Bryn Mawr, starting with the cast photo for a class play titled Princess Ida performed in 1889.
Early plays were performed in the dorms, outdoors, or in the gymnasium. Class plays drew students together and over the years, costumes and scenery became increasingly elaborate. Some scripts were written by students; others were the works of master playwrights. Unlike the University of Pennsylvania where male actors played all parts, at Bryn Mawr all roles were performed by women.
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