Relive one of the darkest playbills in RVA Theatre history with Henley Street Theatre
In December, 1811, a chandelier in the Richmond Theatre on Broad Street caught fire and 72 people were killed. There were close to 600 people in the theatre, among those killed was Governor George Smith.
“President James Madison was at the play and Chief Justice John Marshall. There were many prominent citizens at that event,” said Jacqueline O’Connor the Managing Director at the Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare.
“There were about hundreds of people in the theatre and Richmond itself at the time only had about 10,000 people,” said O’Connor.
It was the worst urban disaster in the country at the time and it largely impacted the community and theatre world in Richmond.
To commemorate the event, Meredith Henne Baker, author of the award-winning book The Richmond Theatre Fire will host a talk-back on Tuesday, January 20th, at 7pm at the Monumental Church, 1224 East Broad St.
The Monumental Church was built on the site of the old Richmond Theatre to honor the 72 people that were killed in the fire.
Before the talk-back, there will be readings from the two plays performed the night of the Richmond Fire: The Father, or Family Feuds by Denis Diderot, a translated French comedy, and Raymond and Agness, or The Bleeding Nun by Matthew Gregory Lewis, also a comedy.
The fire began during the second act of The Bleeding Nun.
“These plays have not been performed or read since 1933 and certainly not on that site, so this is really a once in a lifetime event,” said O’Connor.
Not only did the fire affect Richmond but it shook the whole country. The Richmond Theatre Fire began a national discussion on public building safety and a criticism against the theater.
Baker’s is the first book about the event and its aftermath.
After the play readings, Baker will speak about the events which led up to the day of the fire and the impact it had on the community and theatre in Richmond.
No theatre was performed in the city for 10 years after the event.
The talk-back will also feature Gregg Kimball, Director of Public Services and Outreach at the Library of Virginia; Olivier Delers, Associate Professor of French at the University of Richmond; Emily Davis, Director of Marketing and Communications at Historic Richmond; director Melissa Rayford and the cast.
Historic Richmond will provide food, beer, and wine for this special talk-back.
Tickets are $15. For more information visit and tickets visit this site.
Tuesday, January 20th at 7pm
Monumental Church – 1224 East Broad St.
Free Parking is available across from Monumental Church in the Parking Lot of VDOT at 1401 East Broad Street.
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