Exploring the History of Theater - in One Amazing City


46. Hammerstein's Opera House, Part One

Jan. 27, 2023

We meet Manhattan opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein, and learn how the "Opera War" with his rival, the Metropolitan Opera Company, spread all the way to Philadelphia. What remains behind is not only an amazing theater, but …

45. The Fight Against The Clansman, Part Three

Jan. 13, 2023

1906: A coalition of African American men attempt to stop Thomas Dixon Jr.'s play The Clansman from being performed in Philadelphia. After leading a public protest in front of the Walnut Street Theatre, the whole matter ends…

44. Holiday Show - 2022

Dec. 30, 2022

Seven short and light vignettes from the history of Philadelphia Theater - all of which took place in the city during the Holiday, from various theatrical seasons over the past 150 years. A gift to all of you listeners and s…

43. The Fight Against The Clansman, Part Two

Dec. 16, 2022

We continue our story about Thomas Dixon Jr. and his 1905 play The Clansman with an examination of the early life of this formidable man. We learn the root causes of his political obsessions - and about his need to express h…

42. The Fight Against The Clansman, Part One

Nov. 25, 2022

We begin the harrowing story of The Clansman in Philadelphia. Although this play by Thomas W. Dixon is known as the progenitor to the 1915 D.W. Griffith film Birth of the Nation , few are aware of its early controversial his…

41. Encore Episode: "I Fear No One" - Native American Performance in 19th Century Philadelphia

Nov. 11, 2022

A re-broadcast of an episode originally released in November of 2021. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, an exploration of performances by Indigenous People in theaters of the City of Philadelphia in the 19th Cen…

40. The Quaker City: The Forbidden Play of 1844, Part Three

Oct. 28, 2022

The mob is gathering in the street outside the Chestnut Street Theatre, while inside the rehearsals for the scandalous play The Quaker City go on! Will it all end in a deadly riot? The suspense is building . .

39. The Quaker City: The Forbidden Play of 1844, Part Two

Oct. 14, 2022

George Lippard's novel "The Quaker City, or the Monks of Monk Hall" is made into a new play. The excitement about it builds in Philadelphia, just as the national election of 1844 roils the city.

38. The Quaker City: The Forbidden Play of 1844, Part One

Sept. 30, 2022

We set the scene for the 1844 battle over the play at Philadelphia's Chestnut Street Theater, entitled "The Quaker City, or the Monks of Monk Hall," by George Lippard. How and why this production came about will be the story…

37. Season Two Announcement: Drama is Conflict

Sept. 23, 2022

A quick announcement about our upcoming season of new episodes . . . Spoiler Alert: There will be lots of drama. And conflict! © Podcast text copyright, Peter Schmitz. All rights reserved. ℗ All voice recordings copyright Pe…

36. Jasper Deeter and the Hedgerow Theatre

Sept. 16, 2022

In this Special Summer Episode, Peter interviews theater historian Barry Witham about his 2013 book "A Sustainable Theatre: Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow," and then we bring listeners along on a guided tour of Hedgerow Theatre c…

35. The Paul Robeson House

July 29, 2022

This special episode of the podcast goes on a journey to the Paul Robeson House and Museum in Philadelphia. Included is an interview with Janice Sykes-Ross of the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and a recording of a liv…

34. Special Episode: "Good Night Sweet Prince: John Barrymore Comes Home"

July 8, 2022

Special Episode: Peter reads a chapter about Philadelphia's most famous acting family, from Wicked Philadelphia, a book by Thomas H. Keels. Like the ghost of Hamlet's father, John Barrymore wouldn't stay still and  kept show…

33. Life & Death in the Theater: More 19th Century Stories

June 17, 2022

Addendum to Season One - Six more stories of 19th C. Philadelphia theater. We discuss Alexander Reinagle, Joseph Jefferson III, James Murdoch, Matilda Heron, John McCullough - as well as two stagehands at the Walnut Street T…

32. Philadelphia's 'Negro Unit' of the Federal Theatre Project: A Conversation

June 3, 2022

A Special Summer interview with scholar Jonathan Shandell and director Jerrell Henderson.

31. Interview: Mary B. Robinson

May 6, 2022

Special Episode. Mary Robinson sat down for a talk with Peter to discuss her 4 1/2 year tenure at the Philadelphia Drama Guild in the 1990s. We also talked about the many shows she subsequently directed at the Philadelphia T…

30. The Best of Times

April 18, 2022

From the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the end of the 19th Century, Philadelphia's experienced a boom in theater construction. New plays, musicals, operettas and vaudeville shows constantly cycled in and out of the city to f…

29. The Black Booth: Part Two

March 25, 2022

John A. Arneaux plays "Richard III" at the Academy of Music, then mysteriously exits the American stage. His co-star, the actor Henri Strange, remains - and strives to create a Shakespeare theater for Philadelphia's Black au…

28. The Black Booth: Part One

March 4, 2022

John A. Arneaux starred in a one-night all-Black production of "Richard III' at Philadelphia's Academy of Music in January 1887. Who was he, where had he come from, and why had he chosen Philadelphia for this audacious feat?

27. The Mischianza

Feb. 11, 2022

Another Special Episode! Peter reads the chapter "Oh, It's a Lovely War: The Mischianza 1778" from Thomas H. Keels' 2010 book "Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love."

26. The Everlasting Minstrel Show

Jan. 28, 2022

The story of one of America's most infamous - and influential - performance traditions, as it specifically relates to the history of theater in Philadelphia.

25. The Charlotte Cushman Club

Jan. 14, 2022

The famous 19th Century American tragic actress - and the 2Oth Century Philadelphia women who founded an organization in her honor.

24. The Mummers Parade - An interview with Dr. Christian DuComb

Dec. 31, 2021

A Special Episode for our listeners! Mike Lueger of "The Theatre History Podcast" interviews Dr. Christian DuComb about the history of Philadelphia Mummers Parade, the history behind the iconic annual Philadelphia event, and…

23. The Academy of Music

Dec. 17, 2021

What was Philadelphia to do, in an age when theater audiences were Running Riot? Why, of course! . .  build them an Academy, and fill it with Grand Opera.