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January 2, 2007

CW sets the stage for unveiling design of David Douglass' Williamsburg Theater

Eight years after the remains of an 18th-century theater were discovered by Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists, its fully reconstructed design will be revealed at the symposium, “The Williamsburg Playhouse of 1760 and the World of 18th-century Theater,” March 15-17, 2007, at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

The 1760 playhouse was Williamsburg’s most famous theater. Built by Scottish manager/operator David Douglass, the theater was patronized by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and others before the American Revolution. The symposium will discuss how Douglass’ theater resembled playhouses in Britain, the role of theater in the cultural life of the American colonies, and how the theater worked technically, artistically and commercially. Join historians and specialists as they discuss the importance of this remarkable archaeological discovery. This major research project has been generously supported by Carole Crocker, the H.R.H. Foundation and Karen and Robert Serenbetz.

The program includes presentations by experts in theater and architectural history from the United States and Europe. Visiting presenters include Sterling E. Murray, professor at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Music, in West Chester University, Pa., who will direct the West Chester University Publick Musick. Odai Johnson, associate professor of theater history at the University of Washington in Seattle, will present “Theater Companies and Their Audiences in Colonial America.” Franklin J. Hildy, professor of theater history at University of Maryland, College Park, will explain “European Theatre from Shakespeare to Sheridan.” Peter Perina, theater professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, will discuss “The Baroque Theatre at Cesky Krumlov Castle and the Court Theatre Festivities Tradition.” David Wilmore, principal of Theatresearch, Ltd., in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, will present, “The Richmond Playhouse and Provincial Theatre in Great Britain, 1740-1820.” Claudia Zahn, associate professor at University of Washington, Seattle, will present “Two Scenes from ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ – One from Then, One for Now.” Colin Blumeneau, managing director of Theatre Royal in Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom, will participate with several other presenters in a panel discussion on managing historical theaters today.

Colonial Williamsburg presenters include Cary Carson, vice president of Research who will discuss the Williamsburg Theater Project and moderate a panel discussion, and Carl Lounsbury, senior architectural historian, and Willie Graham, curator of Architecture, who will unveil and discuss the redesign for the Douglass Theater.

There will be four optional master classes that will be offered concurrently: “Gesture and Movement for the Stage,” “Costume and Deportment,” “Musical Voice for the Stage” and “Stage Combat.”

Registration for the 2007 Williamsburg Playhouse of 1760 Symposium is $339 per person and includes the symposium sessions, opening reception, performance of “Othello” at the Kimball Theatre, coffee breaks, dinner at a historic dining tavern and the closing luncheon. Registration also includes a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket valid through the duration of the theater symposium. Optional master classes are offered at no extra cost, but space is limited and slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Symposium registrants enjoy special lodging rates at the official Colonial Williamsburg Hotels. Pre-registration is required and there are three easy ways to register: by fax at (757) 565-8921, online at or by mail to Conferences, Forums and Workshops, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg Va. 23187-1776. For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-603-0948.

For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121