Play: Unknown

Author: Moliere
Date: July 1844 Commencement
Director: Unknown
Venue: “Study Hall” in Main Building 1

Note: “STRATFORD, ONTARlO, Apri1 23, 1875. EDITOR SCHOLASTIC :–Deeming that it would be interesting to many of your readers to take a glance at the names of the “immortal few” who won honors at the “first Commencement” of Notre Dame University, I send you the list, which I found among my ”papers” last week. By way of introduction, I may state that the board of examiners for that year was Revs. E. Sorin, Theodore S. Badin, (proto-sacerdos of U. S.), Francis Cointet, and A. Granger. The examination took place the last of July, and the exhibition, etc., was held in the Study Hall. The play was one of Molières, and the music came from South Bend. The only piece the Band could play with any skill was “Home, Sweet Home.” I give these notes from tradition as I did not enter Notre Dame as a “seeker after wisdom” until the October of 1845. Yours, E. B. K.”

Source: Scholastic 8:32 (1 May 1875), 473. The first commencement at Notre Dame was in 1844, and this un-named Moliere play was part of the commencement exhibition, according to this 1875 source.

Play: Procida

Date: August 1, 1845, Commencement
Director: Unknown
Venue: “Music Saloon” in Main Building 1

Note: This may be The Avenger or The Moor of Sicily, in which Di Procida is the main character, which opened at the Lafayette Theare, NYC, in August 1826. The New-York Mirror, and Ladies’ Literary Gazette 4:6, September 2, 1826, 47, surmises that the play is “founded on the same historical facts which gave birth to Mrs. [Felicia] Hemans’s Vespers of Palermo.” This could also be John of Procida or The Bridals of Messina by James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862), which premiered at Covent Garden, London, in 1840.

Source: The review in The Catholic Herald, Thursday, August 28, 1845, 275-76 (reprinted in its entirety in Washington Hall at Notre Dame, 317-18) does not mention the name of the title of the play for 1845. Also see Washington Hall at Notre Dame, 13-16 and fig. 2.1.

Play: Henry IV

Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Father Michael E. Shawe
Date: Commencement 1847

Note: Father Michael E. Shawe (1792-1853), also known as Mr. Shawe, Rev. Mr. Shaw, Rev. St. Michael Shawe, and Rev. E. Shawe, was one of the first stage directors at Notre Dame. He visited Notre Dame from Vincennes in 1843 and 1845 (and indeed was a guest at the 1845 commencement) and joined the faculty for the two years 1846-47 and 1847-48 before moving on to Detroit.

Source: Brother Gatian’s “Journal,” Feb. 8 1847-Jan. 10, 1849, 1970/02, 11, Indiana Province Archives Center (IPAC).

Play: The Nervous Man

Author: unknown
Date: 1854?
Director: Unknown
Producing Organization: The Thespian Society
Cast included: N.H. Gillespie as McShane

Play: Sebastian or The Roman Martyr

Author: T. D. McGee
Date: Commencement 1855
Director: Reverend R. Shortis

Play: Bourgeois Gentihomme

Author: Molière
Date:Commencement 1857
Director: Rev. N.H. Gillespie
Producing Organization: The Thespian SocietyCast

Thomas Brady in the principal role

Play: Henry IV

Author: William Shakespeare
Date: Commencement 1858

CastHotspur: E. A McNally
Prince Hal: James B. Runnion
Falstaff: Jacob Solomans

Play: Cato

Author: Joseph Addison [1713]
Date: Commencement 1859

CastCato: Peter Menard
Syphax: General Lynch

Source: See “The Thespian Society” (Scholastic 9:26, February 26, 1876, 402-3).

last edited by MCP, September 28, 2016