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The traditional Methodist prejudice against the theatre effectively banned dramatic and other stage performances from the campus during the entire Indiana Asbury period as well as the early DePauw years. Occasional visits by faculty members and students to Indianapolis to view such forbidden entertainments came under the strong disapproval of President Alexander Martin as late as 1881. Nevertheless, the senior class was somehow able to put on a play at the Opera House on the square in the spring of that very year. Entitled "Esmerelda," it was a popular hit with both students and townspeople but apparently so alarmed the university authorities that no similar performance took place for more than two decades. The next recorded presentation of an English-language play at DePauw was in 1905, when Shakespeare's "As You Like It" was performed in Meharry Hall.

In 1906 Professor Rufus B. von KleinSmid organized a Dramatic Club which presented two plays, "His Lordship" and "She Stoops to Conquer." Though this organization proved short-lived, it signaled the onset of a flood of student interest in the theatre. In the next few years there were presented senior class plays, May Day plays performed by coeds, and a dramatized version of Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend sponsored by the Y.M.C.A. In 1913 students in the Music School presented the first opera seen at DePauw, the "Bells of Corneville," with a 25-piece orchestra and a chorus of 25 voices all directed by Professor Howard Barnum. The next year the operetta "Bohemian Girl" was performed as a part of a May Music Festival. By this time Harry B. Gough, head of the department of public speaking, had begun to bring most campus dramatic activities under departmental control.


She Stoops to Conquer was performed in 1907
and was one of the first live drama given by
 students at DePauw.


Duzer Du was organized under his auspices as a dramatic honor society in 1913 and presented its first production, Sheridan's "School for Scandal," on April 28, 1914 on the stage of Meharry Hall. But the installation of the Bowman pipe organ made Meharry Hall practically useless for such stage presentations. With the closing of the Academy in 1914 the administration decided to remodel the assembly room on the second floor of West College into a small auditorium, constructing a stage at the south end of the room and installing a number of old opera chairs and school benches for seating. The theatre opened with Duzer Du's performance of George Bernard Shaw's "Arms and the Man" in the fall of 1914. For 14 years this auditorium served as the home of DePauw's Little Theatre. Before West College was declared unsafe for public accommodation in 1928, 53 full-length plays and 35 one-act plays had been presented on its stage. Theatre had arrived to stay.

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