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John Street Theater.

The first permanent playhouse in New York City. It opened December 7, 1767. The first play given there was George Farquhar's The Beaux Stratagem; it also saw the first production in New York of plays by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Congreve, as well as many contemporary plays and afterpieces. When the British occupied New York the playhouse was renamed the Theater Royal, and officers of the English garrison, especially the talented Major John Andre, used it for amateur productions; a professional company also occupied the theater. In 1785 an American company again occupied the theater for regular seasons. They produced British plays, but their stage also saw the first performances of two important American works: Royall Tyler's <IR> THE CONTRAST </IR> (1787), in the course of which Jonathan, the Yankee bumpkin, describes his first visit to a playhouse (the John Street Theater); and William Dunlap's <IR> THE FATHER </IR> (1789). The theater was used for the last time on January 13, 1798 and then was sold and demolished.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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