History

  • 1873: The first production performed at the UD (then called Delaware College) was Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals, performed in the Oratory of Old College. The school's strict Presbyterian trustees felt concerned that theater would decrease students' morality, so no productions were performed on campus before this year.

  • 1901: The first theatre group on campus was the "Mask and Wig Club" which consisted of the Glee Club, Banjo and Mandolin Club, and College Orchestra.

  • 1923: Assistant Professor Ernest Canfield Van Keuren of the English department taught two drama courses called E-51 and E-52 starting this year. The E-52 class was continued the following semester by Dr. C. Robert Kase. And that's where E-52 got its name! For the first seven years, the E-52 classes only produced two plays per year.

  • 1930: "The E-52 Players" branched off from the courses (after having so much fun) and produced their first extracurricular show, Outward Bound. This is credited as our first true production as a theatre group. The program from this show currently hangs in our office.

  • 1934: Main Street's Chapel Street Players, originally called the University Drama Group, was founded by Elizabeth Kase.

  • 1940: Much Ado About Nothing was the first Shakespearian play we produced!

  • 1946: "The E-52 Players" are renamed to "E-52 University Theatre" with the creation of the new Department of Dramatic Arts and Speech.

  • 1948: E-52 Children's Theater was founded by Elizabeth Kase, and she directed E 52's first children's play, Cinderella. 

  • 1951: E-52 produced our first Broadway musical, Finian's Rainbow.

  • 1952: The organized was renamed to "E-52 Laboratory Theatre".

  • 1954: Judith Kase wrote her original script of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and toured around the east coast for children's theatre.

  • 1958: The United Service Organizations and American Educational Theater Association selected E-52 and seven other university theater programs against all other American university theaters to embark on an overseas tour and perform The Tender Trap to soldiers at military bases in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. The company consisted of 13 E 52 members.

  • 1958: Richard Nixon sends E-52 a thank you letter for participating in the Eastern States Theatre Association Conference.

  • 1960: E-52's closing performance of Carousel broke all box office records with 925 tickets sold in a single night.

  • 1961: E-52 performed The Boyfriend throughout different military bases in Europe.

  • 1965: E-52 performed Kiss Me Kate throughout different military bases in Europe.

  • 1966: At this point in time, only one committee was established: Historian.

  • 1967: A portrait of Dr. Robert Kase was commissioned by E-52 alumni and hung on the left side of the Mitchell Hall lobby, still there to this day, honoring his commitment to University Theatre.

  • 1971: E-52 Laboratory Theater became a full student group, giving students, rather than faculty, the opportunity to direct, design and produce shows. The group went on to perform experimental and more intimate shows such as The Seagull and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

  • 1974: Sophomores Bill Berryhill and Robert Higgens founded the Harrington Theater Arts Company, named after the Harrington A dormitory where both resided. HTAC was founded to specifically produce musicals to counter E-52. In 1980, HTAC performed A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in Wolf Hall as their first musical.

  • 1986: E-52 became an independent student organization open to all majors for the first time. It was officially renamed to "E-52 Student Theatre". Our original Constitution was born. We had our first office space in a cubicle in Perkins 310, which eventually turned into our rehearsal space. We owned nothing-- no props, costumes, or technical supplies. No longer able to use Mitchell Hall for practice and performance space, E-52 began sharing 100 Wolf Hall with HTAC, and a five year "war" began between the two groups that included stealing costumes and lightbulbs before shows started. This is also the first year E-52 began the proposal process for members to be in complete control of the shows. Furthermore, this is when today's E-52 logo was created by Denise Stark after winning a design contest. (The "52" is the comedy and tragedy masks cut in half!)

  • 1987: The undergraduate theater performance major was abolished when the Professional Theatre Training Program (PPTP) made Hartshorn Hall its new home.

  • 1987: The Social/Fundraising Chair was created. We would go to Denny's after most rehearsals, which is why there's a running joke about the waiters at Denny's knowing all E-52 alumni.

  • 1988: After beginning to collect costumes and props as a independent theatre organization, we needed a place to store them. Around this time, Jack Stergle was the Director of Perkins Student Center. Jack offered his empty basement for storage since space was not available on campus. Every time we needed costumes, we would go to "Jack's Basement." This is the folklore about why our Costume Chair is named "JAX." Eventually, a flood hit the basement, and we moved our costumes to a storage space on the second floor of Perkins.

  • 1990: Alumni Relations Chair, Chad Puls, distributes the first official E-52 Alumni Newsletter. Fun Fact included: at least 16 alumni met their spouses during their time in E-52 at this point in history. Also at this point in time, only 4 committees existed: Publicity, Social/Fundraising, Alumni Relations, and Historian!

  • 1992: Sophomore Lowell Christopher Matthews founded the Khulamani Theater Troupe, the first black student theatre group at the university "as a way to honor and represent the artistic culture and contributions of African Americans, not as a race, but as people with a different lens."

  • 1993: Three alumni students in the theatre department founded City Theater Company in Wilmington.

  • 2012: E-52 performed the first production of The Phantom of the Opera in the state of Delaware.

  • 2014: E-52 moved into their third office space in the lower level of Perkins.

© 2017 by E-52 Student Theatre.
 

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