Challenging A History Of Theatre: Springfield, Missouri And Its Formative Entertainment

Date of Graduation

Spring 2002


Master of Arts in Theatre


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Michael Mauldin


NIneteenth-century theatre in St. Louis and other metropolitan areas in Missouri has been well documented. Studies of rural theatre in Missouri during the nineteenth century briefly mention amateur performances in Springfield and several other towns. In the histories of Springfield, theatre appears to be almost non-existent in the nineteenth century, although one scholar documented the history of Springfield's legitimate theatre, stating that no legitimate theatre came to Springfield until 1887. This study proves two findings. First, theatre existed and prospered in the rural community of Springfield, in Greene County, Missouri, between the years 1830 and 1887. Second, Springfield's general and theatrical history fits some of the trends discussed by scholars detailed in the review of the literature. Three categories of literature will be reviewed: books and theses written on Missouri and Springfield's history; primary sources such as newspapers and govenment documents; and general American theatre history. In conclusion, this research has led to a better understanding of Springfield, Missouri through its general and theatrical history. Much like theatre, the community performed. In its performance, a struggle was played out between various competing hegemonies. This document gives a basis from which other studies can be undertaken so that the complete history of theatre in Springfield and other communities can be better understood through an awareness of the struggle between differing ideologies.

Subject Categories

Theatre and Performance Studies


© Charles Thompson