• Theatre Lecture by Dr. William Kimes, 1968


    The Hamline University Theatre was organized as part of a Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts with the appointment of Anne Simley to the faculty in 1930. While acknowledging this as an appropriate benchmark for dating the theatre's history, it should also be noted that theatrical activity at Hamline is seen as early as the production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Commencement time in June of 1910. The performance was at the Schubert Theatre in Saint Paul.

    The years between 1910 and 1930 were marked with annual play performances and increasingly complete season playbills under the sponsorship of the Hamline Dramatics Club (later to be known as the Hamline University Players) founded in 1916. Performances were held in various sites, including the fellowship hall of Hamline Methodist Church. With Anne Simley's arrival, a new venue was opened - the Little Theatre on the third floor of the Old Science Building. The first play that was staged there was George Kelly's comedy The Show-Off, presented in the Spring of 1932. Another important development in the history of these years was the installation of a chapter of the National Collegiate Players, a national theatre honor society, in 1938.

    In 1947 the Little Theatre was closed and the new theatre opened with The Rivals by Sheridan directed by Miss Simley. A gift from benefactor Charles Drew allowed the University to acquire two government surplus Quonset buildings which served as the home of the theatre program for 34 years. In 1964 Hamline was given the Edyth Bush Theatre, a community theatre located in the Highland Park area of the city. The Bush Theatre operated as an affiliate of the Hamline University Theatre until 1975 when it was sold. Several mainstage productions from Hamline were staged there along with full seasons of community plays.

    1981 saw the final productions in the "huts" and they were razed to make way for the present facility. During the final season, as a reprise of its opening, another staging of The Rivals was featured. During the construction of the new building, the theatre moved to the Student Center for over one year with plays being done in a temporary space in the ballroom.

    The current facility was dedicated in April 1983 and opened with Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, directed by William Kimes, on April 22nd of that year. On October 10, 1992 the theatre was officially named the Anne Simley Theatre in honor of its founding director.

    Of the many premieres staged during the theatre's long history, the most notable was the first performance in 1948 of the English-language translation (by Eric Bentley) of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan directed by James Carlson

    Today the Anne Simley Theatre is the busy hub of the Theatre Department. Our program has grown to include regular dance recitals, experimental productions and, when the schedule allows, the theatre also hosts productions by area theatres and dance companies. As the program has expanded we have added several new facilities.

    Studio 67 in Drew Residence Hall provides an Black Box theatre space and a new television studio provides students with experiences in TV programming, performance and technical support.