Talented Tuesday: Much Ado about Benita, Part 1

Benita (McGinnis) McCormick
          (1889 – 1984)

Benita McGinnis, far right, in the title role in the Girls’ Life Class
production of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, 1908.

To the ham go the parts.  That seemed to be the case for my grand aunt Detty (Benita McGinnis), who loved center stage and played the lead in two Shakespearean productions by the Girls’ Life Class of the School of   the Art Institute of Chicago.

The first part was that of Romeo Montague in the all-girl cast of Romeo and Juliet.  Aunt Detty, on the far right, strikes a confident pose as our hero.

From Aunt Detty’s scrapbook.  Caption reads, “Men’s Life Class.”  They seem to be warming up for their supporting role as the band for the Girls’ Life Class production of “Romeo and Juliet.  Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, 1908.
The program above refers to “A Hand-
Made Play” and “Another One,”
possibly hinting at the fun that
awaited the audience on the evening
of May 12, 1908.

Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the Men’s Life Class, evidently a fun-loving group, offered their voice and instruments in musical support of the production. In these two photographs, also from Aunt Detty’s scrapbook, they show us there is more than one definition of “comedy.” (Note the school initials, “AIC ’08 on the side of the drum.)

The playful looks in all these photographs beg the question: was this a serious dramatic rendition of William Shakespeare’s play, or a parody?  The program makes reference to a “hand-made play,” possibly foreshadowing an amusingly entertaining evening.


Caption reads, “Mens’ Life and Band, whooping it up for
the Girl’s play of “Romeo & Juliet.”  Fullerton Hall,
Art Institute of Chicago, 1908. What were they pointing at?

In case you missed it:

Part 2:  Not so Wordless WednesdayMuch Ado about Benita


Copyright ©  2013  Linda Huesca Tully

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