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A Year: Day to Day Men: 6th of September, Solar Year 2018

Crates of Lathe

September 6, 1642 was the day that theater experienced both a major closing and a major reopening 277 years apart.

The major closing was the banning of all theater at the start of the English Civil War. On September 6, 1642, by an act of Parliament, all theaters in England were closed. This meant specifically that the great playhouses and theatrical companies of London, many from the Elizabethan age, ceased operations for good. The reason given for the ordinance was that attending theater was “unseemly” during such turbulent times.

The real reason was that the playhouses had become meeting places for the Royalist opposition, a group against the Parliament.   Their Puritan rivals, who controlled Parliament, understood this and closed the theaters.  Within a few years most of the grand old structures, now abandoned, had decayed beyond use or were dismantled altogether, leaving no visible trace of the playhouses of Shakespeare’s day.

Theatre would remain illegal until the end of the Interregnum in 1660, when the Puritans lost power and the monarchy was restored. Almost immediately, playhouses reopened and theatrical entertainments resumed. Theatre returned full force with the Restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II, leading to a revival of English drama and performance that paved the way for the great age of acting and wit during the eighteenth century.

it was also on this day, September 6th, that theaters reopened. On September 6, 1919, the great Equity Strike in New York and Chicago by theater actors came to an end. Broadway producers had finally reached an agreement with the upstart actors’ union, the Actors’ Equity Association. The only exception was Broadway’s biggest star and largest employer George M, Cohen who was granted a singular exception to continue as before without unionization.

The strike lasted a month and had closed nearly 40 major productions across the city, with revenue loses in excess of three million dollars.  The two sides reached a five-year deal that finally recognized Equity as the professional actors’ union.  Over the next few years working conditions improved and Broadway flourished for nine years until the 1928 season. The advent of “talkies” caused a decline in the theater with a noticeable lack of attendance and thus profits. The stock market crash of 1929 reset the commercial theatre’s entire economic picture for the next several decades.

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