HISTORY OF THE THEATRE
Circle in the Square Theatre was founded in 1951 by Theodore Mann, Jose Quintero, Jason Wingreen, Aileen Cramer, Ed Mann, and Emily Stevens. In 1972, Circle moved to its Broadway home on 50th Street – the first new Broadway theatre in fifty years. The complex included a three- to four-sided (depending on its configuration) with a maximum capacity of 680 seats main theatre auditorium, classrooms, rehearsal studios and administrative offices. Over the years, Circle in the Square Theatre offered some of America’s finest actors the chance to take on demanding roles in an atmosphere free of commercial pressure. Circle encouraged these actors to make bold choices and responded to their desire to explore plays that fell outside the popular repertory. The commitment to the presentation of plays not normally produced on Broadway allowed Circle in the Square audiences to see challenging material unavailable to them elsewhere.
Circle produced over 150 productions, earning a national reputation for its landmark presentations of Bellow, Capote, Moliere, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Thomas, Wilder and Williams. Most influential were productions of O’Neill’s THE ICEMAN COMETH, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN and two definitive productions of HUGHIE. Circle introduced audiences in the U.S. to Genet’s THE BALCONY, Behan’s THE QUARE FELLOW, Fugard’s BOESMAN AND LENA, and offered major revivals of Euripides’ THE TROJAN WOMEN, Webster’s THE WHITE DEVIL, Pirandello’s SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, Shaw’s HEARTBREAK HOUSE, Barry’s HOLIDAY, Inge’s BUS STOP, Sondheim’s SWEENEY TODD and Williams’ THE GLASS MENAGERIE, THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, THE ROSE TATTOO, and GARDEN DISTRICT. Circle is also responsible for the New York premieres of such works as Weller’s LOOSE ENDS, Sobel’s GHETTO, Howe’s COASTAL DISTURBANCES and Korder’s SEARCH AND DESTROY. Thornton Wilder’s PLAYS FOR BLEECKER STREET and the McNally-Melfi-Horowitz triptych, MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT were written specifically for Circle in the Square.
Actors that appeared at Circle have included: Jane Alexander, Mary Alice, Elizabeth Ashley, Annette Bening, Kelly Bishop, Philip Bosco, Matthew Broderick, Dixie Carter, Myra Carter, Richard Chamberlain, Julie Christie, Jill Clayburgh, Frances Conroy, Billy Crudup, John Cullum, Tim Daly, Blythe Danner, Colleen Dewhurst, Mildred Dunnock, Griffin Dunne, Gregg Edelman, Melissa Errico, Peter Falk, James Farentino, Elizabeth Franz, Victor Garber, Lillian Gish, John Glover, Tony Goldwyn, Tammy Grimes, George Grizzard, Bob Gunton, Uta Hagan, Harry Hamlin, Rosemary Harris, Rex Harrison, Glenne Headley, Dustin Hoffman, George S. Irving, Anne Jackson, Michael Jeter, James Earl Jones, Raul Julia, Lisa Kirk, Kevin Kline, Swoosie Kurtz, Nathan Lane, Frank Langella, Anthony LaPaglia, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Robert Lu Pone, John Malkovich, Audra McDonald, Frances McDormand, Sylvia Miles, Rita Moreno, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Nye, Aidan Quinn, Al Pacino, Geraldine Page, Irene Papas, Mary-Louise Parker, Estelle Parsons, Austin Pendleton, Bronson Pinchot, Larry Pine, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason R
obards, Reg Rogers, John Rubinstein, Mercedes Ruehl, George C. Scott, Martin Sheen, Jamey Sheridan, Gary Sinise, Maureen Stapleton, Frances Sternhagen, Marlo Thomas, Rip Torn, Cicely Tyson, George Segal, Antony Sher, Maria Tucci, Eli Wallach, Treat Williams, Nicol Williamson, Elizabeth Wilson, Joanne Woodward, Max Wright and Theresa Wright.
Directors at Circle have included: Josephine Abady, Alan Arkin, Wlliam Ball, Michael Cacoyannis, Liviu Ciuei, Robert Falls, Theodore Mann, Mike Nichols, Stephen Porter, Jose Quintero, David Saint, Susan Shulman and David Warren.
Since the close of the theatre as a producing entity in 1998, Circle in the Square Theatre has remained a fixture on Broadway, hosting productions that carry on the tradition of excellence. Circle is home to 2015 Best Musical Tony Award Winner FUN HOME. Previously the theatre was proud to house Jez Butterworth’s THE RIVER, starring Hugh Jackman and before that Audra McDonald’s Tony-winning performance in LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL. Other recent successes include LOMBARDI, THE NORMAN CONQUESTS and Circle in the Square’s longest running show in its history, the multiple Tony-Nominated production of THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.
HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL
Circle in the Square Theatre School opened its doors in 1961 in Greenwich Village with the aim of helping profession
al actors improve their craft. Working actors could sign up for courses taught by producers and actors connected to Circle in the Square Theatre that lasted upwards of six weeks at a time. The atmosphere was that of colleagues teaching colleagues. This created an eclectic series of classes that were each meant to individually address the actor’s needs.
In 1971, Circle moved uptown to the current location on West 50th street and changed its focus. Instead of providing short-term classes exclusively to the professional actor, the School became a full conservatory that opened its doors to aspiring professionals as well. A full-time training program, The Professional Theatre Workshop, was developed initially with the hope of training the next group of actors for Circle in the Square productions. This two-year workshop strove to combine a collegiate and eclectic style with a rigorous program meant to prepare an actor for any challenge, whether they had worked professionally or not. In addition, the school instituted the Summer Workshops, which offered similar training to the Full-Time program but in a shorter 7-week intensive.
By 1996, the School introduced a musical theatre program. Like the initial workshop, The Professional Musical Theatre Workshop provided intense acting training, but added components that would be specific to the musical theatre actor.
At its inception, Circle in the Square Theatre School only had fifteen students. Now, every year, between its four programs, Circle has approximately 150 students walk through its doors to hone their craft and become great actors.