Walking Tour – #3 The Ben Greet Theatre

Marker #3 will be found on the left-hand side of Burma Road as you continue walking back towards the center of Epworth. You will see an opening in the underbrush and some bleachers.  

Back in 1905, Epworth signed on with the Chautauqua circuit, bringing cultural, religious and political education programs to the summer community. In 1907, the Ben Greet Woodland Players from England made their first appearance at Epworth, performing AMidsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It and The Tempest. The troupe was promised that the construction of an outdoor amphitheater to seat 600 would be completed before their performances—and that there would be electrical lighting affixed to the trees surrounding the stage area. The Woodland Players brought Shakespeare plays to Epworth several times before their last performance in 1916. The area was used for other programs and presentations until 1925, at which time such events were moved to the Auditorium.

The area was largely forgotten until 2007, when there was a move to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the theater by recreating a portion of it. The volunteer trees that had taken over the stage were removed and a small section of bleachers was erected where the former ones stood. One large tree that stands at the back of the stage area still remains—you can see it in the photo above.