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Actors Theater of Louisville

Actors Theater of Louisville
Type: Equity Theater
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The non-profit organization began when a pair of theatre companies, Actors, Inc. and Theatre Louisville, merged under the title Actors Theatre of Louisville. Housed in a tiny loft, formally the Gypsy Tea Room at 617 1/2 S Fourth Street, the company’s founding directors were Richard Block and Ewel Cornett. Quickly outgrowing its 100-seat domicile, the fledgling troupe moved to an abandoned Illinois Central Railroad Station at Seventh Street and the Ohio River. Louisville architect Jasper D. Ward converted the building into a 350-seat theatre, preserving most of the station’s interior structure.

In May 1969, Jon Jory was appointed the theatre’s new producing director. Jory’s October 1969 Louisville directing debut with Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood marked a renaissance for the organization. Alexander Speer, former executive director whose tenure of forty years began in 1965, became Jory’s partner.

Due to demolition of the station to make way for a connector highway, the company’s final production at the station was Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in May 1972. As final performances were presented, sentimental audiences recalled how the station had been a good home—a place where Actors Theatre had grown from several hundred season subscribers to over 9,000, and where over 65 productions had been staged.

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