MCTC History

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In 1908, in order to raise funds for their baseball and basketball teams, the young men of Moravian College organized themselves as the "Footlights Club" and presented a play, The Flower of the Family, in the auditorium of the Seminary and College for Women on Church Street. The play was warmly received, and a repeat performance was offered at Lititz, Pennsylvania.

In 1928, members of the club were joined by young women from the Expression Department of the College for Women. Among the early joint productions was The Queen's Husband by Robert Sherwood. Productions continued at both institutions through the 1930s and 40s. In 1950, recognizing that footlights were no longer used in theatres, the club changed its name to The Blackfriars, under the direction of Professor Edward Kubach.

On the women's campus, the theatre group was known as The Players during the 1920s and 30s, and graduates were grouped as The Metpothalians. In 1939, The Players became The Little Theatre Group and presented Jane Austin's Pride and Predudice and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1942, both women's groups participated in a pageant marking the 200th anniversary of the Seminary and College for Women.

In 1955, the men's and women's theatre organization combined, following the merger of the two institutions, and retained the name Blackfriars. Professor Stefan George directed the Blackfriars in those years, as did Walter Beaupre, Robert Burcaw, and Eugene Jacobsen.

When Jack Ramsey assumed direction of the theatre efforts at Moravian in 1970, he brought with him the view that in the course of four years a student should be presented with a broad sampling of major periods and forms of theater. Productions have ranged from Greek tragedy to black comedy; from farce and musical comedy to Shakespeare; from Feydeau to The Fantasticks. Summer Dinner Theatre was introduced, as were children's theatre and student-directed productions.

In 1981, with the opening of the Arena Theatre, the Blackfriars gave way to the Moravian College Theater Company. Now, over one hundred years old and under the direction of Christopher Shorr, the Moravian College Theatre Company has partnered with Bethlehem's professional ensemble company Touchstone Theatre, and is building new traditions in a second century--a standard-bearer for a College tradition in drama.

 

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