Audiences themselves have also changed. In
Thalian’s early years, theater was an activity that
was, according to Rivenbark, “almost like what
television is to us.” Performances were widely
attended by all segments of the population,
although ladies usually frequented only those
events that were considered appropriate. Or they
might go to less acceptable ones wearing veils.
Now women at Thalian are audience members,
volunteers, performers, directors, designers,
technicians and staff members.
During its 150th anniversary celebration in
2008, Thalian presented a series of events meant
to both recall its past and celebrate its future.
One of these was Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks
with a Circus, a play based on a children’s book
published in 1881.
After the show, the audience exited the build-ing
through the south door facing Princess Street,
originally the main entrance into the theater but largely unused for decades. No longer surrounded
by the familiar stone and glass lobby, they emerged from the narrow, dimly lit hallway into the park
where a crowd gathered on the lawn and suddenly, they could see Thalian through new eyes.
It was possible to envision an event the Star described in 1883. “… the park and hall were illumi-nated
with Chinese Lanterns. The Cornet Concert Club played on the south portico, and a fireworks
display on the lawn climaxed the evening.” In that moment, it was easy to see that with Thalian Hall,
the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Thalian Hall in the 1940s from Third Street, City Hall side.
In Thalian’s early years,
theater was an activity
that was, according to
Rivenbark, “almost like
what television is to us.”
Tony Rivenbark in the Thalian
Hall auditorium in 2021.
Wilmington citizens gathered at Third and
Princess Streets to celebrate the end of
World War I with the signing of the Armistice
on Nov. 11, 1918.
THALIAN HALL ARCHIVE COLLECTION JAMES BOWLING
NEW HANOVER COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY/LOUIS T. MOORE COLLECTION