York Town Square

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Noted early American actor and York countian John Durang also early stage acrobat on the trampoline

John Durang is noted as the first native-born American to make a full career in the theater. The York County Heritage Trust has devoted a web section to this York countian who went on to the stage in major American venues in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This image, painted by Durang, is part of that site and the Heritage Trust’s collection. Also of interest: John Durang notes that York Fair produces affairs to remember and Northwestern York County flag expert: ‘I was interested in my nation’s heritage’ and Memoir of early-American dancer John Durang highlights event.

John Durang and his family are a fascinating study – another unsung and under recognized product of York County.
That’s not only because Durang is, according to the York County Heritage Trust, the earliest American-born theater professional.
And there’s more to the family’s story than their link to the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in the news recently because an early piece of sheet music was sold at auction for more than $500,000.
Durang, the early American actor, dancer and entertainer, was also an acrobat.
And an intriguing part of his story was the use of a trampoline to enter the stage with a splash.

Daniel R. Porter of the York County History Society wrote a letter to the editor of Life magazine in April 1960 that Durang used a trample, or trampoline, as far back as 1785 in Philadelphia.
He was able to gain the center of the stage in one spring to the fascination of the crowd.
Here’s Porter’s complete letter and several other links for those who want to know more about John Durang and his family:
– The Heritage Trust’s John Durang webpage.
Other images of John Durang and scenes from early American theater.
– A short discussion of John Durang’s place in early American entertainment history.
– The York County Heritage Trust’s archives has copies of a biography about John Durang. Inquire about the availability of the book in the Trust’s gift shop.
Also of interest:
York, Pa.’s, Strand and Capitol theaters have played host to silent movies and loud applause
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