American theatre dates back to the latter half of the seventeenth century. Of course there were many performing arts created by the Native Americans before then. The first theatres were built at Williamsburg in 1716, New York in 1732, and Charleston in 1736. Most early American theatres were not built to last more than a couple of season. In the 1750’s American theatre became centered around two major cities, Philadelphia and New York.
After America became Independent from Brittan laws, censorship, and restrictions against the Performing arts were relaxed by George Washington. During this time period many British actors traveled to America to make a living. Popular styles of plays during this period were Shakespearean tragedies, Restoration comedies, and farces. Also during this period the first all American “The Contrast” play was produced by the Old American Company and written by Royall Tyler.
Broadway officially began in 1750 when Thomas Kean and Walter Murry opened a theater on Nassau street. The theater could only hold 280 people and typically performed Shakespearian plays and ballads. It was only in till the nineteenth century that Broadway began to flourish and become what we now it as today. In the early half of the century New York defeated Philadelphia and became the centre of theatrical excellence. With the ever growing amount of theaters and companies plays were able to reach a