In 1794, the Connecticut Courant's 30th year of publication, there appeared in the paper an advertisement for two stage comedies — "Child of Nature" and "Love Alamode" — being performed by the Old American Company. Doors would open at 6 p.m., the play would begin promptly at 7.
In his history of the Courant, "Older Than The Nation," author J. Bard McNulty wrote:
"The Courant proprietors even might have felt a glow of civic pride — soon one could think of the 'theater season' in Hartford. Clearly the city had come of age culturally. Or had it? The troupe had put on only a few performances when the following plaintive notice appeared.
"It is the request of the company that their friends and patrons will not remove from the several parts of the house but by the doors, as it is a bad example to be followed, and at the same time, disturbing in some measure, the tranquillity of the house."
Yeah, when people are leaving the theater through the windows, you have to think things are not going well.
But then let's face it. The colonists did not exactly come from a theater heritage. It is said the Puritans banned the practice of bear baiting, publicly taunting a bear tethered to a post, not because of the pain it caused the bear but because of the pleasure it gave the audience.
From this less than auspicious beginning, the arts in Connecticut have flourished over the centuries, and during February, Courant writers and critics will looking back at our history in theater, movies, literature, music and art, as well as aspects of our ever-evolving culture.
The coverage will include stories on:
The roles played by the Wadsworth Atheneum and New Britain Museum of American Art in presenting works by such artists as Andrew Wyeth, Childe Hassam, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Dali, Caravaggio, Calder and Warhol.
The movies based in Connecticut over the years including "Parrish," "The Stepford Wives," "Mystic Pizza," "Amistad" and "The Ice Storm."
The famous actors with state ties ranging from Katharine Hepburn to Meryl Streep to former Courant paperboy Charles Nelson Reilly.
The memorable concerts here by acts such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, and let's not forget the Powder Ridge Rock Festival that never was.
The music scene, which includes such notables as Charles Ives, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Victor Borge and Leonard Bernstein, and the birth of the Hartford Jazz Society and the social impact in the '60s.
In addition to the arts, there will also be stories on culture, the heyday of shopping in downtown Hartford, the high society and social scene over the years.
We've come a long way since "Child of Nature" and "Love Alamode."