Originally Published: February 19, 2016 3:25 p.m.
Theater was a popular pastime during the territorial days and it seems that Shakespearean fare wasn't too refined for the people in the territory of Arizona. Louis James, who was a legendary actor of his time, toured the Arizona Territory during the golden age of Arizona theater, producing 10 different plays, according to a press release from Sharlot Hall Museum Marketing & Media Manager Ken Leja.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, Tom and Wendy Collins will present a readers' theatrical discussion of James, focusing on four of his productions in the West Gallery of the Lawler Exhibit Center. Sharlot Hall Museum is at 415 W. Gurley St.
Tom is a professor emeritus of theater and has written "Stage-Struck Settlers in the Sun Kissed Land" and "Arizona on Stage: Playhouses, Plays and Players in the Territory, 1879-1912," the press release stated. He previously taught speech and theater at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and co-founded the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, serving as artistic director while Wendy served as costume designer. They have lived in Prescott since 2001, according to the release.
Tom's love for Shakespeare attracted him to the subject of Louis James, the release stated.
"To wildly enthusiastic applause, James staged 'Hamlet,' 'Macbeth,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'Julius Caesar,' 'Othello' and Robert Montgomery Bird's 'The Gladiator' with his touring company during the golden age of Territorial Arizona theater," Leja wrote. "His impressive stature, rumbling baritone voice and larger-than-life acting style made Louis James a Western legend."
Admission to the Readers' Theater presentation and following book signing is free.
"Tom and Wendy have performed in Readers' Theater programs at Sharlot Hall Museum, the Prescott and Phoenix Corrals of Westerners, Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff and in the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum," the release stated.
"The Collins' lavishly illustrated presentation brings this titanic tragedian back to life and examines a few of his famous productions," Leja wrote.