In 1806, Richmond entrepreneurs built the city’s first theater, the New Theater, at the present-day juncture of Thirteenth and Broad streets. This theater was likely the first in Virginia, and Richmonders of all colors, classes, and genders attended, although a three-tiered system of seating and ticket pricing separated attendees by race and class. Wealthy white patrons paid a dollar or more to sit in boxes thoroughly separated from the rest of the audience. Their middle and working class counterparts paid two or three quarters for orchestra seating. For a quarter or less, the city’s poorest citizens, any people of color, free or slave, and women “alone in public,” who were considered prostitutes, filled the theater’s pit and upper-most galleries.

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Copyright © 2013 Routledge. This article first appeared in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 33, no. 1 (March 2013): 77-98.

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