Dawn D. Drake

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


This study documents and analyzes the production activity and the quality of the celebrity performers appearing at the Metropolitan Theatre in Grand Forks, North Dakota, during the years of 1898 to 1911. The production activity at the theatre is categorized into seven groups of production: legitimate drama, Shakespeare/'classics, melodramas, minstrels, opera/musicals, vaudeville/burlesque and special productions. The quality of performers is judged by their relative status in American theatre history. Both of these elements were, during this period, heavily influenced by the Theatrical Syndicate.

Research for this study includes searching newspaper advertisements and publicity for the productions found in The Grand Forks Herald. Names of productions, dates of appearance and leading names of actors and actresses were collected and categorized by type and quality. Additional supporting material comes from the Metropolitan Theatre archives housed in the Department of Special Collections at the University of North Dakota. Included in this collection are a previous study about the theatre concluding with the year 1897, original programs, business contracts and other historical documents regarding the Metropolitan. Other historical studies of the period concerning early American theatrical touring and road shows. Theatrical Syndicate and biographies of performers were also used in the study.

The conclusions of the study indicate that during this period, the theatre underwent decided change. Due to the influence of the Theatrical Syndicate, there was a considerable increase in production activity with much variety being offered to audiences, but as far as the plays were concerned, most were of little literary value and served only as money-making vehicles. Some of the most notable stars of early American theatre appeared at the Metropolitan, but their appearances were infrequent at best. Despite these positive and negative aspects, the Metropolitan Theatre's activity and performers were of great importance to the cultural history of Grand Forks.