'Othello'

Hartford Stage's first production was of William Shakespeare's "Othello." (Hartford Stage)

'The Hartford Stage Company, with no time for trifles, made its debut in its new theater last night, confronting Shakespeare and 'Othello.' "

So began The Courant review on April 2, 1964, by the critic who went under the initials "T.H.P." (T.H. Parker).

And so began the now 50-year run of the theater, overseen through the years by five extraordinary artistic directors.

Fresh out of the Yale School of Drama, Jacques Cartier, the founding artistic director hustled to get his theater made — even going so far as stealing into the limo of an insurance company CEO to convince him to support this new theater venture. (He agreed.)

The Courant was behind the new theater project which was to open at its first theater on Market Street, proclaiming in a 1963 editorial: "If the Hartford

area supports the new resident theater project … it will be adding a valuable cultural influence in the area where competition from mechanical entertainment has been especially severe." (And this was long before the era of special effects such as crashing chandeliers, helicopters and antelope stampedes filled the stages.)

During the 50th anniversary celebration last fall, Cartier was modest at what he had wrought, preferring to think of it as "the big bang theory," where great things emerged after one incredible impulse.