Loretto Players

While there are a few earlier mentions of the Loretto Players1, a formal club by that name appears to have been organized in the fall of 1928.2

The 1930 yearbook indicated the purpose of the organization: "The Loretto Players Club of Webster College is an organization of the Dramatic Students of the school. This is only the second year of the Club's existence...The object of the Club is to advance the interest in Drama, and to foster social activity among the Dramatic students."3 The club later opened membership to any Webster student interested in theatre.4

The Loretto Players were active in the broader St. Louis theatre scene. They were members of the Dramatic League which formed in the late 1920s and performed at various venues in the area.5 They also participated in local and regional tournaments.6 The Loretto Players earned the distinction of being the first amateur cast to perform The Cradle Song in the St. Louis area.7

The Loretto Players performed a variety of works, from one-act plays (some written by the students themselves) to Greek classics. An article in the student newspaper claimed that "Each year for the past forty years a Greek play has been presented by Webster College, the only school in the Greater St. Louis Area to bring the classical drama of the Greeks to the living theatre."8

The tradition of performing an annual Shakespeare production began in the 1918-1919 school year and continued with only a few exceptions for decades.9 In 1939, the Loretto Players drew increased community interest in their performances with a pilgrimage to the Shakespeare statue in a local park, something the college continued to sponsor for many years.

Despite their love for the classics, members of the Loretto Players also embraced modern plays as explained in an article in the student newspaper: "...not that we don't just love to do a bearded old man, a young gallant, a mule, a fool, even an angel or an animated statue, it's merely that we are trending toward the up-to-date angle; hense (sic), a modern play...will be presented monthly by the senior dramatists..."10 For example, in 1959 the actors performed plays put on in various locations on campus, causing the audience to move from set to set, including the front steps of Webster Hall.11 A few years later, the Loretto Players hosted an evening of cabaret theater which the student newspaper described as a "relatively new art form" and an evening of "expresso, candlelight, and checkered tablecloths..."12 In 1965, Ernest in Love became the first studio production, a "new series of studio productions...of an informal nature" put on in the End Room Theatre13

As a women's college until the 1960s, females played male roles in the early productions. In later years, male roles were often performed by students from local universities or community theater. For example, the 1946 Webster production of Our Town featured male actors from St. Louis University.14 In 1962, Webster began the process of becoming a coeducational institution and thus became able to cast their own students into such roles.

Mention of the Loretto Players ceases in the mid1960s with the emergence of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Theatre Arts Department's conservatory-based curriculum.

Notes

1The Loretto Players are mentioned in the June 1927 (p. 324) and July 1928 issues of The Lorettine.
2Irwin, Roberta. (1940). History of dramatics at Webster College, 1915 to 1935. Unpublished manuscript. Webster College, St. Louis, Missouri. Also mentioned in the 1929 yearbook, Lauretanum (p. 76).
3Lauretanum, 1930, p. 63.
4Loretto Players announce open membership plan. (1942, October 9). The Web, vol. 19, no. 1, p. 2.
5Loretto Players present plays at Odeon Theater. (1930, January 22). The Web, vol. 6, no. 6, p. 1.
6Loretto Players to journey to Chicago. (1931, March 25). The Web, vol. 7, no. 9, p. 3.
7Loretto Players to give Sierra's famous play. (1930, November 12). The Web, vol. 7, no. 3, p. 1.
8Webster presents Euripedes' 'Medea'. (1956, January 16). The Web, vol. 32, no. 3, p. 3.
9Irwin, Roberta. (1940). History of dramatics at Webster College, 1915 to 1935. Unpublished manuscript. Webster College, St. Louis, Missouri.
10Loretto Players looking forward to bumper year. (1940, November 7). The Web, vol. 17, no. 3, p. 3.
11Progressive theatre to make debut. (1959, April 17). The Web, vol. 35, no. 6, p. 4.
12One-acts a bit beat. (1962, October 26). The Web, vol. 39, no. 5, p. 1.
13Ernest plays Oct. 29-31, slated for spring tour. (1965, October 22). The Web, vol. 42, no. 3, p. 1.
14Cast selected for "Our Town". (1946, October 31). The Web, vol. 23, no. 2, p. 4.

References

Loretto Players elect officers. (1936, December 3). The Web, vol. 13, no. 4, p. 1.
Loretto Players featured in Post-Dispatch. (1928, February 9). The Web, vol. 4, no. 5, p. 2.
Loretto Players give radio reading. (1931, February 18). The Web, vol. 7, no. 7, p. 1.
Loretto Players of College present "As You Like It". (1934, May 16). The Web, vol. 10, no. 8, p. 3.
Loretto Players to appear soon in annual play. (1943, April 16). The Web, vol. 19, no. 10, p. 1.

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