- The rapid growth of railroads in the decades following the Civil War may have been the primary factor underlying the golden age of legitimate theatre on the road. Individual stars in the 1870s would travel from town to town to perform with the local stock company. The 1880s brought the heyday of touring companies, each headed by a star, with a troupe of 10 or 12 actors, offering several plays in repertory. A major company might carry its own scenery on the train, while many relied upon the local theatre's stock settings. Schedules had to be planned carefully, especially when a company was booked for a succession of one-night stands. Often the trunks had to be ready to take to the depot immediately following a performance, so that the company could catch a night train to the city of the next evening's engagement. For Sarah Bernhardt's 1887 American tour, she had a special train rather than relying on regularly scheduled routes; according to the Kansas City Journal (9 May 1887), "the Bernhardt train consisted of a baggage car carrying about thirty trunks, a coach for the members of the company, all French, madame's private car and kitchen."See also Jump.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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