- (1842-1894)James Morrison Steele MacKaye was born in Buffalo, New York, son of a lawyer and art fancier who sent his son to Paris to study art. MacKaye returned to join the Union army during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major before illness ended his service. After recovering, MacKaye returned to Paris and in 1869 studied expression with François Delsarte. Returning to the United States, MacKaye lectured on Delsarte's theories and opened a school in New York in 1871 to teach Delsarte's techniques. MacKaye launched himself as an actor and playwright with Mon-aldi (1872), coauthored by Francis Durivage, but it failed to find an audience. He played Hamlet in London's Crystal Palace in 1873, then scored New York successes with two plays, Rose Michel (1875) and Won at Last (1877).MacKaye assumed management of the Fifth Avenue Theatre and refurbished it with a lighting system designed by Thomas A. Edison and other state-of-the-art equipment, including an innovative elevator stage that permitted fast scene shifts. Renamed the Madison Square Theatre, MacKaye opened it with his hit play Hazel Kirke (1880), which achieved the longest run of a nonMUSicAL work in the history of the American theatre to that time. Management problems led to his loss of the theatre, so MacKaye designed another theatre, in which he planned to include a hotel, but it was never built. In 1885, MacKaye designed the Lyceum Theatre, which again incorporated technical innovations and a space for a drama school. Among MacKaye's later plays, Paul Kauvar; or, Anarchy (1887), a French Revolution melodrama, won favor, as did The Drama of Civilization (1887). MacKaye also designed a Spectatorium for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in which he planned to present The World Finder, a pageant of Columbus's life, but the elaborate plan had to be scaled back due to a national economic downturn. He was the father of Percy MacKaye.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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MacKaye, Steele — ▪ American playwright born June 6, 1842, Buffalo died February 25, 1894, Timpas, Colo., U.S. U.S. playwright, actor, theatre manager, and inventor who has been called the closest approximation to a Renaissance man produced by the United… … Universalium
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