- About the Project
- Westhampton College Traditions
- Racism in UR Fraternities (1947-1985)
- Resistance & Compliance
- The Title IX Controversy at UR
- "Dark Side of College Life"
- Chinese Student Experience
- Student Life and White Supremacy
- George Modlin's Segregated University of Richmond
- Students of Color at UR (1946-1971)
- Performance & Policy
- Silence in the Archives
- Black Student Experience at UR (1970-1992)
- Faculty Response to Institutional and National Change (1968-1973)
- On Campus but Not Welcomed
- Can I Survive?
- Where I Come From, You Recognize Humanity
- The Damage of the Affirmative Action Myth
- A Feather in Their Cap: The Story of Barry Greene (R'72)
- A Campus Divided
- Freeman Digitally Remastered
- Remembering the Forgotten: Black Staff Members (1946-1971)
- Spider of Color: Korean-American Representation at the University of Richmond
- Theater History at the University of Richmond
- Digital Stories
- Oral History Collection
- Projects That Inspire Us
- Browse Items
- Subjects List
Theater History at the University of Richmond
Over the course of the Spring 2018 semester, students in Dr. Patricia Herrera's THTR 319: Theater History II collaborated with the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project to explore the nearly 100 year history of the University Players, the catalyst for theater at the University. Students created podcasts around certain aspects of theater history on their campus.
UR Players & Spaces by Bailey Daigle
Bailey Daigle is a junior from Gorham, Maine. He is a double major in Theatre and History with a minor in Secondary Teacher's Education. He is the Master Carpenter in the Department of Theatre and Dance scene shop, member of academic honors fraternities Kappa Delta Pi and Alpha Psi Omega, and the Historian for the UR Players.
Before 1996, the University Players were the only organization on campus associated and responsible for the production of theatre. Students were responsible for marketing, designing, performing, and at one point even hiring directors for productions. Over the years, the Players organization gained responsibilities, repute, and facilities, until it reached the highest point students could achieve. Then, with the opening of the Modlin Center, the University Players lost many responsibilities and were removed from several aspects of producing theatre. The University’s theatre program continued to grow, but it was at the cost of student involvement.
The first in the long line of improvements was the hiring of Alton Williams. The University Players found time to acquire funding from various departments and used the money to hire directors, until 1935 when the University hired its first full time director and professor of theatre (University Players Contemplate 2.) Finding a director did not solve all of the Players problems, though. Williams reportedly scavenged the campus for building materials to put up his first production at Richmond due to the Players lasting lack of funds (University Players 4). Regardless of the struggle, the Players never stopped producing theatre. Even in the light of the Playhouse fire in 1950, an event that cost the Players all of their recently acquired equipment and performance space (Playhouse Fire 1). Banished to Keller hall, performing in arena staging out of necessity rather than preference, the students of the University Players worked to keep performing.
From there, the University added William Lockey Jr., Jack Welsh, and in 1968 constructed the Modlin Fine Arts Building to house the theatre and music departments (“History of the University of Richmond”). At this stage in our history, the University Players were not only producing plays, but also managing the box office, house management, and sending out subscription materials to regular theatre goers all across Richmond (Players). These expanded services were funded by expanded university support for the Players efforts. This funding was held in a safe in the Modlin Fine Arts building, and was locked off to all save for Jack Welsh and the holder of the Players President position (Schoen). This was the peak of Players involvement in production.
The Modlin Center for the Arts opened in 1996 with the goal of enhancing the existing theatre and dance programs, and to bring in professional theatrical and musical works, and speakers to add to the general student body’s experience at the University of Richmond. However, it did this at the cost of the University Players. The Modlin Center, and the new faculty added to the Theatre Department in the following years, filled the roles of public relations, box office management, props, costumes, and revoked the President’s access to money (Schoen). This was not done in malice, but the faculty replaced students in these positions because they could devote more time to provide a more professional service. The service the Modlin Center Provides and the level of production the new Department of Theatre and Dance is technically greater than the University Players could perform on their own. The program is undeniably better funded and equipped, but the at the cost of more disenfranchised students who have lost their stake in the game.
“History of the University of Richmond: Architecture - University of Richmond.” History of the University of Richmond: Milestones - University of Richmond, University of Richmond, urhistory.richmond.edu/architecture/index.html.
“Playhouse Fire Attracts Many.” The Richmond Collegian, 1 Dec. 1950, p 1, 6.
Schoen, Walter. Personal Interview. 9 March 2018.
“University Players Contemplate a New Era.” The Richmond Collegian, 8 Nov. 1935, p 2.
University Players. Subscription brochure to Miss Kathleen B Francis. 1971
“The University Players Salute “Prof”.” Program for Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons at the Camp L. Memorial Theatre, Richmond, Playbill, 1969, pp 4-6
Race and Theatre: Reflections of a UR Theatre Student by India Henderson
India Henderson is a freshman from West Chester, Pennsylvania. She intends to double major in Leadership Studies and French and minor in Theatre. She is a Richmond Artist Scholar, a Student Ambassador, and is a member of the Choeur du Roi a cappella group.
Theatre history at the University of Richmond is vast, with archival records dating back as early as the 1920s. It was through my original exploration of the University Players’ archives that I was first able to investigate this vast history of UR’s Department of Theatre and Dance. The University Players is a student-run organization that works to connect student theatre to the department in both a meaningful and experiential way. Having played an extremely active role in “all things theatre” for the last century, the Players’ archives had a plethora of documents, play programs, correspondences, and other archival items. The specific Players’ folder through which I looked had items ranging from 1990 to 2007. Discovering that, until 2005, there had been minimal shows written or produced by people of color at UR, I became intrigued. As a black female student new to the department and interested in performing, I decided to examine how past production seasons engaged with race and how the department continues to engage with the issue today. This podcast seeks to begin the work of historicizing black theatre at UR through an interview with an associate director of theatre, a close examination of two black shows on campus, and my own personal account.
Mr. Chuck Mike is the associate director of theatre who I had the wonderful opportunity to interview. Our conversation was not only a crucial part of my research and podcast content, but it also provided me with an amazing perspective on the past, present, and future of our theatre department and its engagement with race. Before coming to Richmond, Mike was living and working between Nigeria and the UK as an artistic director of African and African American plays. Dedicated to the principles of theatre for social change, or theatre for the development work in rural African communities as well as urban communities abroad, he founded a theatre company called Collective Artists and also the Performance Studio Workshop. He has also shared his talents extensively throughout academia in Nigeria, the New York University, University of Toronto, and Smith College, amongst others. In addition, he has lead workshops in the five Boston colleges, South Africa, and Ghana.
My interview with Mike was so helpful to my research! Whereas before, it would have been easy to come to many conclusions about why certain decisions had been made, he provided clarity to a very complex history. “Discussions of race are part of the social change mechanisms we need to evolve a more equitable society," suggests Mike. "Without discussions of it, there will be no action. Without action, there will be no change.” He proposes that theatre’s principal role is to be the force that advances this discourse. I, too, believe that theatre can be an extremely effective tool for social change and I hope to be a part of the change on this campus throughout my next three years.
“George Modlin’s Segregated University of Richmond.” Race & Racism at the University of Richmond, memory.richmond.edu/exhibits/show/modlin. Accessed 10 Apr. 2018.
Mike, Chuck, Mr. Videoconference interview. 27 Mar. 2018.
Robinson, Michael. "
OPINION: Dear fellow black people: Race talks belong to all." The Collegian. 30 April 2018. http://www.thecollegianur.com/article/2018/04/dear-fellow-black-people-race-talks-belong-to-all-0b94
The music was created by India Henderson using Garageband.
Shooting Stars: Title IX on the Court and Stage by Niomi Kaiser
Niomi Kaiser is a senior from Powhatan, Virginia. She is a Theatre major and Bonner Scholar, looking for ways to motivate change through art.
Shooting Stars was a breakthrough in terms of rehearsal style and connectivity between departments, as Walter Schoen directed Molly Newman’s piece with energy and the intent to display relationships between seven women on a basketball team. This team struggled with ownership and autonomy, a case similar to many of the women’s sports teams at the University of Richmond in the 1980s. Ten years later, the production still held relevancy, while also providing an entertaining and thoughtful look into the dynamics between women who support one another’s talent. Shooting Stars, and this production of it, still maintain this relevancy, as female athletes are paid significantly less than their male counterparts, and university sports are not all treated equally.
Female athletes at the University of Richmond were some of the first “Silence Breakers”, as they protested unjust treatment in 1981 and beyond. Despite the counter suit by the OCR concerning $500,000 of federal aid given to UR students, the case wasn’t overturned, and remained legally unchallenged until 1984.
In the context of the 21st century, female athletes are at the mercy of changing departments. Particularly, as departments follow revenue over the well-being of their female students. As with the case of men’s soccer and track at the University, there is always the threat of funding being allocated in ways that negatively impact women’s sports. What would happen if an entire women’s sport was dropped in favor of another? Students would be forced to find alternative methods of tuition payment. Private student loans have been worsened by Betsy DeVos, who has made companies capable of avoiding state limitations regarding student debt. Dr. Heilman mentioned an interesting parallel in a speech concerning “government intrusion” when the University initially opposed implementing Title IX. He mentioned that business and industry in the private sector remained positive influences over bureaucracy. If female athletes are not given assistance by the school or federal funding, how will they be capable of supporting their studies, especially when the law will be unable to persecute unjust debt practices? How will they be given protection under Title IX? How will they be given protection after graduation? These are all questions the legacy of Title IX and student debt beg to be answered.
Furthermore, what does the future of sports and theatre look like at the University of Richmond? How will these departments, filled with bright women use the legacy of Title IX to reclaim their education? And will there be another “coached” rehearsal process like the one Schoen used for Shooting Stars? Only the future knows.
Kaiser, Niomi, and Walter Schoen. Interview. 19 Mar. 2018.
Lankford, Catherine. “Does UR Comply with Title IX?” The Collegian, 1 Feb. 1996, pp. 23–23.
Larter, David. “UR Caught in a Web of Controversy over Lacrosse Decision.” Richmond BizSense, 1 Oct. 2012, richmondbizsense.com/2012/10/01/ur-caught-in-a-web-of-controversy-over-lacrosse-decision/.
Newman, Molly. Shooting Stars. Dramatists Play Service, 1988.
Parker, Charles. “Suit Filed Against UR in Title IX Controversy.” The Collegian, 3 Sept. 1981, pp. 1–1.
“Speech ‘Governmental Intrusion into Private Higher Education.’” Omeka RSS, memory.richmond.edu/items/show/2253.
“The Student Loan Industry Finds Friends in Washington.” The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/18/opinion/student-loans-devos.html.
Interracial Relationships on Stage & Screen by Emilie Knudsen
Emilie Knudsen is a junior from Reston, Virginia. She is a Theatre major and a Creative Writing minor. She can often be found in stage management and scenic design roles for the UR productions.
This project started with flipping through the Virginia Baptist Historical Library archives and finding a Collegian article that featured a beautiful photograph of a production here at University of Richmond. The show was Ibsen’s famous realist play, A Doll’s House, and it is about the traditional power that men hold and the women who can step away from that power and find their own. Ibsen said: “a woman cannot be herself in modern society. It is an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint”. It’s a remarkable piece that examines power dynamics in the most intimate of settings – the home – by a man many would consider ahead of his time. But what was remarkable to me was the photograph of the production here at UR – that photo was of the two main characters, a married couple by the names of Nora and Torvald. Except the photo revealed that in this particular production, Nora was black and Torvald was white. With the city of Richmond and the campus’ history I was surprised and excited to see the representation of an interracial couple onstage here at the University. This sent me down the path of exploring the representation of interracial relationships today in our mainstream conversations and social lexicons. And what I found surprised me – in essence, nothing. There is endless debate on social media and across internet platforms that discuss black rights, the problems of white supremacy, the racism that still chokes our country, but there is little chatter that I could find revolving around interracial relationships and representation. There is little representation of interracial relationships today and there are few people engaging with that subject matter in our mainstream culture. In his 2001 production of A Doll’s House here at the University of Richmond, Director Walter Schoen did nothing extra-ordinary by casting an interracial couple as Nora and Torvald. It was not about race, it was about talent, as was quoted in the Collegian article from the archives. But it is something to note that it’s been so long since miscegenation laws were overturned, and we are still pleasantly surprised by interracial relationships being represented. It should be so common, so coded within our visual memories, that it does not need discussion. That’s why color-conscious casting and interracial casting is so important. It familiarizes everyone watching with the idea of a multicultural world and, when casting for a traditionally white character production, reassembles the show in a more familiar light for all audience members of all racial backgrounds. In a sense, taking a realistic piece of theatre, like A Doll’s House and casting it as Director Schoen did, reclaims the definition of “realism.” Realism is supposed to mirror everyday life – it should have characters of depth, not cast easy moral judgements, and wishes to imagine the world complexly. In reclaiming realism by casting plays to mirror our current world and all the relationships we see, we fulfil the purpose of realism even more so because we are seeing an everyday life that those who have not been represented onstage and screen can relate to.
Bialik, Kristen. "Key Facts about Race and Marriage, 50 Years after Loving v. Virginia." Pew Research Center. June 12, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/12/key-facts-about-race-and-marriage-50-years-after-loving-v-virginia/.
Black, Gregory D. Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Bravin, Jess. "For Couple, Interracial Love Is Reality; On Stage It's Fantasy: Race: La Habra Community Theatre's Decision to Not Cast a Black Male Lead in "Romeo and Juliet" Disappoints Two Youths. The Theater Says Its Duty Is to the Ticket-buying Public." Los Angeles Times. August 28, 1990. http://articles.latimes.com/ 1990-0828/entertainment/ca-342_1_la-habra.
Byatt, A.S. "A.S. Byatt on the Heroine of Ibsen's A Doll's House." The Guardian. May 01, 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/may/02/ibsen-a-dolls-house.
Edmunds-Diez, Olivia. "No Place For Us: Interracial Relationships in 'West Side Story'." Bitch Flicks. http://www.btchflcks.com/2016/02/no-place-for-us-interracial-relationships-in-west-side-story.html#.WuU3g9Pwbdd.
O’Rourke, John, and T. Charles Erickson. "The Huntington Tackles Ibsen Classic | BU Today |Boston University." BU Today. https://www.bu.edu/today/2017/huntington-a-dolls-house/.
Raj, Hari. "Review: 'Get Out' Is Even Better Than Woke White Critics Have Told You." Junkee. April 20, 2017. http://junkee.com/get-out-white-woke/102624.
"The Face of Othello, Then and Now." Avant Bard | Theatre on the Edge. January 19, 2015. http://wscavantbard.org/face-of-othello/.
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. S.l.: Beacon Press, 1997.
Wallenstein, Peter. "Reconstruction, Segregation, and Miscegenation: Interracial Marriage and the Law in the Lower South, 1865–1900." American Nineteenth Century History 6#1, 2005.
Commitment to Resistance by Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee is a senior at the University of Richmond. She has been involved in theatre on campus as a writer and actor.
The University of Richmond has been a conservative campus politically, religiously, and socially. The 1975 production of Conquest of My Brother was a noble attempt to portray the injustice and violence committed against the Native Americans, but fell short in terms of social justice and representation. The shortcomings challenges us with questions on representation, diversity, and inclusivity at the University of Richmond, especially the theatre department. What story gets to be told? Who gets to tell it and who is the target audience? These are some questions we must think when thinking about diversity and globalization. When different groups come together and share their own cultures, we can learn that diversity is not only in the numbers and representation, but in the mind, the exchange of ideas, and most of all, the acceptance and celebration of differences.
Bird, Mary Brave, and Richard Erdoes. Lakota Woman. Grove Press, 2011.
Dilday, Robert. “Va. Baptists Alter 169-Year Tie with University of Richmond.” Baptist Press, 12 Nov. 1999, www.bpnews.net/1612/va-baptists-alter-169year-tie-with-university-of-richmond.
Emanuel, Edward F. “Conquest of My Brother.” 1970. Theatrical script.
Halloran, Stuart. Personal Interview. 7 Apr. 2018.
Koumpilova, Mila, and Paul Walsh. “Obituary: Longtime American Indian Activist Dennis Banks.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 31 Oct. 2017, www.startribune.com/obituary-longtime-american-indian-activist-dennis-banks/454089543/.
Langston, Donna Hightower. “ American Indian Women's Activism in the 1960s and 1970s.”
American Indian Women's Activism in the 1960s and 1970s, 2011, www.manataka.org/page2449.html.
Pendleton, Lelia. Personal Interview. 7 Apr. 2018.
“Play Termed ‘Preachy Documentary’.” The Collegian 4 Dec. 1975. Web. 5 Mar. 2018.
Salinas, Elaine J., and Laura Waterman Wittstock. “A Brief History of the American Indian Movement.” A Brief Histry of AIM, www.aimovement.org/ggc/history.html.
“‘Shadow Box’ language offended some patrons.” The Collegian 14 Jan. 1984. Web. 7 Apr. 2018.
“To Celebrate The Bicentennial And The Theme Year Of The University Of Richmond: The University Players.” The Collegian 9 Oct. 1975. 5 Mar. 2018.
“Student Production Set: ‘Killing of Sister George’.” The Collegian 22 Jan. 1976. Web. 8 Mar. 2018.
“The 1970s.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/1970s.
“University Players Plan Premiere: Cast Named For Next Production.” The Collegian 6 Nov. 1975. Web. 3 Mar. 2018.
“UR Players: ‘Conquest’ To Open Here Next Week.” The Collegian 13 Nov. 1975. Web. 5 Mar. 2018.
Homophobia and the Theatre in the 1980s by Rachel Nugent
Rachel Nugent is a junior from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a double-major in Theatre and Leadership Studies. She currently serves as the vice president of the Theatre Honor Society, Alpha Psi Omega and may be found in the program of most UR productions as a member of the stage management or design team.
In beginning research with the archive, I was at a lost. In the beginning, I struggled with grasping the concept of historical research in any way at all, because I consider history to be my weakest subject in school. I always had a hard time caring about each detail that was being crammed into my brain just so I could pass tests. But, I was given a gift before I even went to the archive. Sharon, who was assigned to look through the same folder as I was, emailed me and said she found something that she thought I might be interested in and that I should take a look. This was a huge relief as I now had a place to start. What Sharon had clued me into were a series of letters regarding a play called The Shadow Box. Patrons had complaints about the play because they believed it had strong content and there should have been a warning prior. In addition to this, I found the letter between Dr. Heilman and Pastor Garst, which I hated that I had to find but loved that there was something that I felt strongly about for me to write about. I also believed that I had figured out which play Dr. Heilman was writing about, and that it had been written by a student. My original intent was to combine these two topics and talk about homophobia as well as censorship of the theatre.
However, there was no record of any of the plays in question in Jack Welsh’s papers. After looking into the script of The Shadow Box, I determined that the reason for the complaints was likely swearing and other language issues, rather than content, and that it wouldn’t make for a very interesting paper. In addition, the other play, Matrimonial Humor, was nowhere to be found on the internet, as it was written by a student in 1984. However, it didn’t matter anyway because after re-reading the letter, I realized that there was no chance Garst and Heilman were referring to that play as it was dated December 7th (Matrimonial Humor ran from December 6th-8th) and Heilman references a previous conversation with Garst that they had in Virginia Beach, likely months (or at the very least, weeks) prior.
So, I panicked, went back to the drawing board and decided to focus on how Heilman mentioned two possibilities – a play by the UR Players and one by a visiting group. I began speculating instead of researching. Ultimately, I think this was good for me, as research is one of the most stressful and miserable things, personally. I believe that this journey was a good one for me to make as I have realized the importance of setting aside a good amount of time before doing archival work, just to keep checking and double-checking yourself as you go along.
"Acceptance Comes with Maturity." The Collegian (Richmond, VA), November 9, 1978. https://commonground.richmond.edu/common/pdfs/Homosexuality-at-UR.pdf.
Beth Marschak and Alex Lorch, Lesbian and Gay Richmond (Arcadia Publishing), 57.
Christensen, Jen. "AIDS in the '80s: The Rise of a Civil Rights Movement." CNN. June 01, 2016. https://www.cnn.com/2016/04/14/health/aids-atlanta-emory-university-the-80s/index.html.
"Common Ground." LGBTQ History at UR - Common Ground - University of Richmond. March 08, 2018. https://commonground.richmond.edu/lgbtq-life/history/index.html.
Criswell, Christopher. "A Brief Timeline of AIDS." AIDS Timeline. http://www.factlv.org/timeline.htm.
Mayes, Rick. "Gay Rights and Homophobiaphobia." The Collegian (Richmond, VA), 1989. https://commonground.richmond.edu/common/pdfs/Gay-Rights-and-Homophobiaphobia.pdf.
Pattillo, Laura. "'There's No Way I'd Change. No Way in the World.'" The Collegian (Richmond, VA), February 2, 1989. https://commonground.richmond.edu/common/pdfs/Theres-No-Way-Id-Change.pdf.
"Timeline of LGBT History in Virginia and the United States." https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/NewDominion/LGBTQ_Timeline Virginia and US.pdf.
Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: A History of Theatre. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Companies, 2012.
The Man Behind the Scholarship: Alton Williams by Ariel Vogel
Ariel Vogel is a rising senior from Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is an English major with a double minor in theater and women, gender, and sexuality studies. She is a part of the UR Players, the Business Manager for the Alpha Psi Omega theater honors fraternity, social chair of the women’s ultimate frisbee team, and on the staff of the student paper, The Collegian.
Alton Williams, known affectionately as “Prof Williams” to his students, was the first theater faculty to be hired at the University of Richmond. He worked with students in the classroom and through their extracurriculars from 1935 to his retirement in 1974, and his employment watched the theater program at the university develop from little more than a student club to an official branch of the rhetoric and communications department.
Williams grew up in Fresno, California and received his undergraduate degree from University of California. He directed the Fresno Players, an undergraduate student theater group, for three years before moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to continue his degree at the University of North Carolina. After graduation, he stayed at UNC for two years to teach theater courses and assist the head of the theater department in directing and leading their student group. He also wrote plays on the side and exhibited interest in teaching playwriting in addition to other trade theater classes.1 F. W. Boatwright was president of the university from 1895 to 1946, making him the longest-running president of the university. He hired the young but experienced Williams as the first step in initiating an official fine arts presence at the university. Two year after Williams’ employment, Boatwright consolidated all arts classes into one unofficial “department of fine arts”; courses involved included piano, playwriting, and painting, and nine faculty were a part of the program.
Though he was hired to teach a handful of English and theater classes alongside his work as the director of the University Players, the student theater organization in place before his employment, Williams did not limit his presence in Richmond. He worked as a reviewer for the Richmond News Leader, a daily newspaper at the time, and eventually was promoted to the position of amusements editor in 1942. He held that position until his retirement.3 He gave various talks about theater structure, particularly his interest in the importance of little theaters, both at the university and in the community. His theater work also expanded into the city and state when he headed a statewide theater group that hoped to provide a leadership structure for the Virginia theater community. On campus, his work focused on his students. He cast, designed, and directed four shows a year until more theater faculty were hired, giving interested students ample opportunity to involve themselves in theater in whatever capacity they wished. He also used student directors regularly, in one case even letting her take over during the final week of rehearsals when he came down with the flu.
The 1960s were a time of tension and change in the United States as the Civil Rights movement gained prevalence. Richmond, Virginia was no exception, particularly as Virginia lawmakers did their best to prevent desegregation in their schools, and the University of Richmond was also late to the game; the school didn’t have a black student as a “dormitory student” until 1968.7 Although he had a channel for taking a political stance in the 60s with the theater, the aging Williams instead produced mainly apolitical, generally lighthearted and entertaining shows. However, from behind the scenes, Williams had a part in initiating student organizations that allowed independent speech and discussion of important topics on campus. He was on the initiating leadership board for the Forum, which was a regular structured meeting where students discussed proposed topics; club guidelines restricted heckling and interruptions, but encouraged healthy disagreement. He also was a part of the the eight-year project to establish a student radio station on campus—a station still working today.
The development of a theater presence on the University of Richmond campus has been around almost as long as the western Richmond campus itself, but the origins of the program are ambiguous at most. Only the Alton Williams scholarship for theater students remains as a reminder of the original theater professor, a testament to his behind the-scenes work with students. I have explored this history through archival material from the student newspaper, The Collegian , and the Richmond newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch . I also interviewed two University of Richmond alum, Reed and Terry West, who worked directly with Williams during their time at the school, to provide further insight into the man behind the research.
“University of Richmond Adds First Department of Drama.” Richmond Times-Dispatch , Aug. 25, 1935.
“Fine Arts Course Given.” The Collegian , Sept. 17, 1937.
“Alton Williams, Drama Critic, Dies.” Richmond Times-Dispatch , Feb. 14, 1981.
“Little Theatre and Collegians Praised for Folk-Lore Dramas.” Richmond Times-Dispatch , Mar. 3. 1936.
“Alton Williams Named to Head Drama Group.” Richmond Times Dispatch , May 4, 1947.
“Student Pinchhits as D...[incomplete].” Richmond News Leader , Oct. 24, 1957.
Owen, Dan. “WC, RC Enroll Negroes As Full Time Students.” The Collegian , Sept. 20, 1968.
“Subjects Deliberately Controversial: Forum for Students Planned.” The Collegian , Feb. 5, 1965.
“UR To Have Radio Station.” Richmond Times-Dispatch , June 4, 1961.