The history of Longwood Gardens’ Performing Arts Program begins with Pierre S. du Pont.
It had been nearly three years since Mr. du Pont had purchased Longwood, and the beauty of the Flower Garden Walk—the earliest of his formal beds—inspired Mr. du Pont to host the first of many garden parties, which often featured musical entertainment and fireworks.
In 1914, Mr. du Pont debuted his Open Air Theatre, which featured “secret” fountains that shot out of the stage floor. The Theatre was later expanded and has since hosted countless performing arts events such as theater troupes, Broadway-style musicals, famous dancers and singers, pageants, massed choruses, Shakespeare, John Philip Sousa and his Band, and the United States Marine Band.
In addition to using the Theatre, we have continuously experimented with different types of programs in unexpected garden settings—Indian sitar music in the Italian Water Garden, Shakespeare excerpts staged on the Main Fountain Garden “balcony,” modern dance choreographed for Peirce’s Park—all using beautiful surroundings in novel ways.
Performances at Longwood aren’t limited to our outdoor spaces. The Conservatory’s Ballroom and Exhibition Hall also play host to numerous performing arts events throughout the year.