“Lines” on the Berea College Theatre Department

  • The first theatre performance at Berea College was in 1892. The “Class in Literature” performed a staged reading of “Hamlet” in the Red Parlor of Ladies Hall.
  • In 1920, the Dramatic Club was created for full-length and one-act plays. In 1929, $5,000 was granted to modify the Tabernacle (the Tab), a 19th century commencement structure being used as a gymnasium, into “a facility suitable for theatre.”
  • In 1970, a revision to the curriculum allowed an independent major in Theatre.
  • On Monday, September 3, 1973, the Tab was destroyed in a fire. Performances moved to the upper chapel in Phelps Stokes and the new location was called the Phoenix Theatre.
  • In 1980, the Jelkyl Drama Center was built on the same site as the Tab. The first performance there was Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by John Bolin. Bolin, Paul Power and Richard Sears are generally credited with creating the Theatre Program (now Department) as it’s known today.
  • In 1985, the faculty approved a major in Theatre.
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