For the first time ever, the Old Globe Theatre and the Women’s Museum of California will join forces for an exhibit featuring a select panel of women who have been instrumental in the development and creative endeavors of the 82-year-old Balboa Park institution.
The exhibit - titled “Muses of the Old Globe” - will highlight 13 women whose contributions were of paramount importance to the history of the theater.
The show runs until Oct. 29 at the Women’s Museum in Liberty Station.
“We have a baker’s dozen we’re focusing on. But there have been so many women directors, costume designers, board members and benefactors,” said Darlene Davies, curator of the exhibit and Old Globe historian since 1951.
“There is a focus on these 13, but we have others scattered throughout the show,” Davies added. “Women who have all led very interesting lives with great stories to tell. I was going to just pull out a dozen women. Those I was particularly intrigued with - some very well known, and some nobody knows anything about. But it was silly to think we could confine it to just these women. There’s a lot of overflow, and we’re trying to harness and contain.”
The Old Globe, built in 1935, was originally designed for the California Pacific International Exposition. The theater is a replica of Shakespeare’s storied Globe Theatre in London.
One of the “muses” featured is Mary Belcher Trapnell (later Farrell). She led a group of concerned citizens to save the Globe complex after the exposition.
“When the exposition ended, most of the temporary buildings were scheduled to be demolished,” Davies said. “She set about to make sure that didn’t happen. She arrived at the Falstaff Tavern - which eventually became the Cassius Carter Centre Stage in 1969 - after the fireplace had already been torn down and handed whatever dollars she had to the working crew and she saved that building.
“Muses of The Old Globe”
When: Through Oct. 29
Where: Women’s Museum of California, NTC Liberty Station Arts District, 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16, San Diego
Tickets: $5 general admission; $3 seniors and students; free to members and military.
“This woman, with her commitment, saved the structure, and what kind of history would we have without it at the Globe. The strength this woman showed. She wanted a community theater and set about to save the Globe. I see her as terribly important.”
Also featured is Delza Martin, who served on the board of the Globe for 51 years. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Globe board of directors (in 1979), and she was responsible for traveling to Los Angeles in 1947 to persuade Craig Noel to leave 20th Century Fox, where he was a dialogue coach, and come be director of the Globe. He came and never left.
Diane Peabody Straw, executive director of the Women’s Museum, said this exhibit is unique in terms of the level of detailed research Davies did. It’s also the first of its kind for the museum.
“I didn’t anticipate the research process - it went way beyond the normal scope of and will definitely lead to a really dynamic exhibit,” Straw said. “Going back in and figuring out who was involved in various projects, it’s easy to see who were the playwrights, directors and cast, for example. But this is more in-depth - taking it to another level.”
Sager is a freelance writer.