the 1890s theater was so popular and taken so seriously that the Deseret
News, Salt Lake Tribune, and Salt Lake Herald all had a special theater
page devoted to coverage of the professional theaters in Salt Lake.
But Salt Lake City still had no permanent dramatic company.
major force in the development of drama in Utah arrived in 1892--Maud
May Babcock. Babcock was hired as an instructor in elocution and physical
culture at the University of Utah and quickly set about putting together
a sustained program in dramatics. Besides her work at the university,
she also had students at Brigham Young Academy and at Salt Lake public
schools. Under her direction, the newly formed University Dramatic Club
put on its first play in December 1897. With no theater at the university,
the club used LDS ward halls and later the Salt Lake Theater for its
annual performances. It also began to present performances throughout
the state and in parts of Idaho.
training received in the University Club went home with some of its
students to the smaller communities of Utah. Other club alumni went
back to perform with the University Club players, while still others
went on to professional companies. Blanche Kendall Thomas, for example,
became a New York actress, performing in Ben Hur.
activity at the university heightened. The French and German classes
began to produce plays in the original languages. The Order of the Gleam,
a women's literary organization, and the Scribblers' Club, a men's literary
club, sponsored contests for original plays, which were later staged.
The freshman class began to stage an annual production, and the Music
Department began presenting operas at the Salt Lake Theater.