Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Society Hill Theatre, first playhouse in North America, founded

The Society Hill Theatre became the first playhouse in North America.

Society Hill Theatre, first playhouse in North America, founded

The Society Hill Theatre became the first playhouse in North America.

It was once located at the southwest corner of Hancock and South Streets, beyond the city limits and thus out of the jurisdiction of the town authorities.

The first performance of Hamlet in America occurred on July 27, 1759. Lewis Hallam, Jr. (1740-1808), "The Father of the American Theatre" and leader of the American Company, played the lead role.

He was the stepson of David Douglass, who was in charge of the American Company — an acting troupe led by Lewis Hallam, Sr. 

Douglass had secretly gained permission to build a theater in the area of Southwark, but town authorities (comprised mostly of Quakers) did not condone plays or play acting of any sort. When the prohibition took effect on January 1, 1760, Douglass and his troupe left Philadelphia.

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HMP was conceived and formed in 2008 by Sam Katz as part of a plan to produce a multi-part series on the history of Philadelphia. It is now a full service production company with a focus on helping organizations with a rich history tell their stories through the powerful medium of film.

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