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1960s Bonstelle Theatre poster exhibit opens at Reuther Library

May 29, 2013

To coincide with the 110th anniversary of the construction of what is now the Bonstelle Theatre, a new exhibit featuring a selection of Bonstelle Theatre posters from the early 1960s recently opened in the Leonard Woodcock Gallery at the Reuther Library. 

The nine posters in the exhibit date from 1961-1965. In the 1961-1962 season alone, the Bonstelle Theatre (including its active Student Stage) mounted 36 productions for a total of 154 performances. By 1965, after the addition of the Hilberry Classic Theatre, total annual attendance at the university's theatrical performances exceeded 130,000 audience members.

The original posters were screenprinted and displayed in the lobby of the Bonstelle Theatre. Unfortunately, the artists didn't sign their names to the posters, but the styles of the illustrators can be recognized from picture to picture -- for example, the cartoonish faces in the illustrations for Don Giovanni and The Imaginary Invalid, and the curlicues in the details and lettering for Jack and the Beanstalk and The Member of the Wedding.

The posters can be viewed in the Woodcock Gallery on the first floor of the Reuther Library during regular hours or online in the Reuther digital image gallery (

For more history and information, visit or contact Casey Westerman, Wayne State University archivist, at

The Wayne State University Library System consists of the university's six libraries: The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, the Purdy/Kresge Library, the Shiffman Medical Library, the Arthur Neef Law Library, the Science and Engineering Library, and the Reuther Library and the School of Library and Information Science.

Wayne State University is a premier urban institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.