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1960s Bonstelle Theatre poster exhibit opens at Reuther Library

Wayne State University Theatre’s 1963 production of Ossie Davis’ “Purlie Victorious”

Wayne State University Theatre’s 1963 production of Ossie Davis’ “Purlie Victorious”

DETROIT — To coincide with the 110th anniversary of the construction of what is now the Bonstelle Theatre, a new exhibit featuring a selection of Bonstelle Theatre posters from the early 1960s recently opened in the Leonard Woodcock Gallery at the Reuther Library.

The nine posters in the exhibit date from 1961-65, a particularly strong period in the history of the Wayne State University Theatre.

In the 1961-62 season alone, the Bonstelle Theatre (including its active Student Stage) mounted 36 productions for a total of 154 performances.

By 1965, after the addition of the Hilberry Classic Theatre, total annual attendance at the university’s theatrical performances exceeded 130,000 audience members.

The original posters were screen printed and displayed in the lobby of the Bonstelle Theatre.

Unfortunately, the artists didn’t sign their names to the posters, but the styles of the illustrators can be recognized from picture to picture.

For example, the cartoonish faces in the illustrations for “Don Giovanni” and “The Imaginary Invalid,” and the curlicues in the details and lettering for “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Member of the Wedding.”

The posters can be viewed in the Woodcock Gallery on the first floor of the Reuther Library during regular hours or online in the Reuther digital image gallery  at www.reuther.wayne.edu/taxonomy/term/1658.

 

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