Kidder, Edward E.


Kidder, Edward E.
(1846-1927)
   The playwright-manager was born in Charleston, Massachusetts. Among the actors he managed were John T. Raymond, Julia Marlowe, Joseph Murphy, and, notably, Lotta Crabtree, with whom he traveled to England. From the 1880s, he focused on playwriting and had many produced works, including A Poor Relation (1889), One Error (1890), and Easy Dawson (1905).
   children's school and theatre company were founded in New York City in 1923 by Edith Lawrence King (1884-1975) and Dorothy Coit (1889-1976) and continued in operation until 1958. King had begun her career as a painter, even exhibiting in the landmark 1913 Armory Show in New York. She met Dorothy Coit, a history and English teacher, when they both taught at Buckingham School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their first theatre collaboration at the school was an all-girl production of Milton's Comus (1915), followed by The Tempest and many others until they moved to New York City in 1920. There they staged Aucassin and Nicolette in 1921 at the 39th Street Theatre; Beatrice Straight* and Jane Wyatt were among the children in the cast.
   The King-Coit School and Children's Theatre opened in 1923. Classes for children between 3 and 15 were offered on weekends and after regular school hours. The intention was not to train theatre professionals, but to stimulate imaginations and interest in history and the arts through the three Ds: dance, drama, design. The productions, aiming always at perfection, achieved remarkable beauty and attracted close critical attention. Despite the difficulties of constant fundraising to supplement income from tuition and problems with child labor laws, King and Coit persevered for 35 years, working with the children of many celebrities as well as those on scholarship.
   See also Gerry Society.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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