footlight players cartouch Charleston, South Carolina's Oldest Resident Theaterfootlight players logo

The Footlight Players Mural
Footlight Players Mural

In 1946, at the suggestion, of the president of the Board of Directors, a mural was planned for the east wall of the Workshop, to measure 9 feet by 18 feet, and render a composite view of the leading personalities in Charleston's 200 year theatrical history.

This decoration, executed by Alfred Hutty and Emmett Robinson, reveals to our modern audiences twelve actors representative of the great favorites who played here, along with eight of Charleston's playwrights, two managers, and two critics.

The actors, shown in poses indicative of the style of acting in which they excelled, all appear in the theatrical costume of the period. The poses and likenesses of all have been based on authentic sketches and pictures and attention has been paid to securing exact detail of dress and manner.

1. MONIMIA - Real identity unknown. Actress assumed name of leading character in Otway's "The Orphan", which she first played in the Charleston Court Room in 1735. In 1736, Monimia appeared in the opening production of "The Recruiting Officer" in the New Theatre in Dock Street. (Conjectural likeness)

2. MRS. WHITLOCK (1761-1836) - English actress, nee Elizabeth Kemble, sister of Mrs. Siddons. An excellent tragedienne, played leading roles in Charleston Theatre, (Broad and New Streets) from 1797-1805. Portrayed here as Magaret in "Earl of Warwick."

3. MATTHEW SULLY - Pictured as Harlequin in which he excelled from 1304 to 1812 at the Broad Street Theatre. Brother of Lawrence and Thomas Sully. Noted for his spirit and the energetic votility of his playing.

4. HENRY PLAClDE (1799-1870) - A Charleston born national star, he appeared locally between 1812-1847. Achieved fame in comedy; most successful in the frothiest type of farce. He is shown in "The Comedy of Errors." Joseph Jefferson wrote that Placide was "a finished artist but somewhat cold in his manner."

5. JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH (1796-1852) - Born in London, Booth achieved fame in America; noted for his villains and semi villains, such as Iago, Richard III (in which role he is shown), and Sir Giles Overreach. Played Broad Street Theatre, and New Charleston Theatre (Meeting Street near Market) from 1821-1852. While in Charleston for an engagement, performances postponed be cause Booth suffered from a psychoneurotic seizure while staying in the Planter's Hotel Annex (site now occupied by reconstructed Dock Street Theater); during this his manager escaped with only minor injuries inflicted by the mad actor with a bedpost.

6. EDMUND KEAN (1787-1833) - English actor. Noted for his Shakespearian roles and such villains as Sir Giles Overreach (in which role he is shown). Played in the Broad Street Theatre 1824-1826. Dr. Irving mentions a glorious evening Kean spent "in vino plenus" culminating in an impromptu recitation in the gutter before the Jones Hotel on Broad Street.

7. FANNY ELSSLER - This famous dancer captivated Charleston audiences in 1840 with her performance in "Sylphlde" at the Meeting Street Theatre.

8. CHARLES MACREADY - English actor. Critics accredited his performances triumphant, especially his "Werner" when he played in the New Charleston Theatre (Meeting Street, near Market) in 1814 and 1849.

9. EDWIN BOOTH (1833-1893) - Foremost American tragedian played in Charleston from 1850 through the 1880's. Famous for his Shakespearian roles; also for his Richlieu. Played in the New Charleston Theatre (Meeting Street) and The Academy of Music.

10. JULIA DEAN (1830-1868) - American actress, noted for her beauty and loveliness. First appeared in Charleston in 1852, playing her greatest role in "The Hunchback." So great was her charm that a group of local admirers presented her with a specially designed bracelet and breast-pin set with emeralds, diamonds and pearls. In 1855, Miss Dean married Dr. Arthur Hayne of Charleston, the son of Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina.

11. JOSEPH JEFFERSON (1829-1905) - American actor, a great favorite in Charleston during the 1870-1890's when he played at The Academy of Music. Beloved in the roles of Rip Van Winkle (as represented here), Bob Acres and Dr. Pangloss.

12. OTlS SKINNER (1858-1942) - American actor, a great favorite during the early decades of the 20th century. Well remembered, especially in "Kismet" and "The Honor of the Family." Played in The Academy of Music (King Street and Market, now the site of the Riviera Theatre).

13. WILLIAM IOOR (1780-1830) - Playwright, born in St. George's Parish, Dorchester. Wrote the first produced play by a Carolinian: "Independence, Or, Which Do You Prefer, the Peer or the Farmer" presented at the Broad Street Theatre in 1805. In 1807 his "Battle of Eutaw Springs" was produced. (Conjectural likeness)

14. JOHN BLAKE WHITE (1781-1859) - Artist, Dramatist, Lawyer, editor of the Charleston TIMES. Born near Eutaw Springs, SC, his plays produced at the Broad Street Theatre were "Foscari" (1806), "Mysteries of the Castle" (1806) He also wrote "The Forgers." His paintings of St. Phillips Church are still to be seen there.

15. ISAAC HARBY (1788-1828) - Journalist, Playwright, Belles Lettres scholar. Born in Charleston, Harby saw produced in the Broad Street Theatre his plays "Alberti" (1818 - 1819) and "The Gordian Knot" (1810).

16. M. MORDECAI NOAH (1785-1851) - Lawyer, Playwright, Journalist, Consul to Tunis. Of Portuguese Jewish ancestry, Noah long made Charleston his home. Here he wrote "Paul and Alexis" (1812) and "Marion, the Carolina Swamp Fox" (1833).

17. EDWIN CLIFFORD HOLLAND (1794-1824) - Author. Born in Charleston, Holland wrote considerable poetry. He dramatized Byron's poem "The Corsair" and saw it produced in the Broad Street Theatre in 1818. (Conjectural likeness)

18. WILLIAM CRAFTS (1787-1826) - Author, Lawyer. Born in Charleston, he served as critic for the Charleston COURlER. Wrote "The Sea Serpent; Or, The Gloucester Hoax" which was produced in 1819 at the Broad Street Theatre.

19. WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS (1806-1870) - Novelist, Man of Letters. Wrote several plays of which "Guy Rivers" was produced in 1853 at the Broad Street Theatre. In this same building "Guy Mannering", based on his novel, was produced in 1822. In 1945 "The Yemassee" was produced at the Meeting Street Theatre, and in 1855 "Michael Bonham, Or, The Fall of the Alamo."

20. DuBOSE HEYWARD (1885-1940) - Novelist, Poet, Playwright. Born in Charleston, he served on the Board of Directors for the Footlight Players. His greatest novel, "Porgy" has become a classic American play and folk opera.

21. ALEXANDER PLACIDE - Dancer, Manager, Actor and Acrobat; of French birth. Came to Charleston in 1791. Manager of the French Theatre (Church Street) 1794-1800. Manager Charleston Theatre (Broad and New Streets) 1805-1812. Father of Henry Placide. (Conjectural likeness)

22 CHARLES GILFERT - Musician, Manager. Managed the Charleston Theatre (Broad and New Streets) 1813-1825. A composer of note, several of his songs are extant. Wrote considerable incidental music for various plays, and several operas are attributed to him (Conjectural likeness)

23. THESPIS - Critic for the Charleston COURIER Identity unknown. Most prolific from 1803-1805. Wrote extensive reviews and was a model of constructive comment. (Conjectural likeness)

24. DR. JOHN BEAUFAIN IRVING (1825-1877) - Painter, Author. In 1879 wrote a series of theatrical reminiscences for the Charleston COURlER under the name "A Friend of the Drama." Also wrote reviews during the the antebellum period. An original member of "The Cabinet Court of St. James", the first organized group of amateurs in Charleston. Irving also wrote "A Day on the Cooper River" and a history of the South Carolina Jockey Club.

Become a part of the Footlight Players.
Your tax-deductible contributions will keep the tradition alive.

The Footlight Players - 20 Queen Street - Charleston, SC 29402 - (843) 722-4487

The Footlight Players is a member of The Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce,
The Charleston Area Arts Council and The American Association of Community Theaters
Website Design by Heffner 9/20/97