Did you know that at one time actors were refused Christian burial?

That burlesque was born in 1865?

That the first Elizabethan comedy was “Ralph Roister Doister” and that the playwright Robert Green was green with envy at the success of Shakespeare?

These and many other advices are contained in a thesis written by two junior high school ninth-graders that is so good that it is to be used as a supplementary text at Pittsfield High School.

The authors are Sheila Conti and Susan Burt, both 14 and both members of Joseph J. Walsh’s English honors class at North Junior High School.

The girls worked about seven months on the thesis, entitled, “A Short History of the Theater.” Sheila wrote chapters on the Roman, primitive and American theater; Susan covered the Greek and English theater.

When the thesis was shown to Robert M. Boland, supervisor of art in the junior and senior high schools, he was so enthusiastic about it that he decided to use it as a supplementary text in a Pittsfield High School course he gives, Dramatic Literature.

The thesis is being copyrighted and printed for use next year.

“It’s a terrific piece of work,” Mr. Boland says. “It’s much better than most general texts of this nature.”

The girls gathered their information from publications ranging from the Encyclopedia Britannica to Good Housekeeping magazine. The thesis is illustrated with drawings by Susan’s mother.

Sheila is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Conti of 41 Clark Road. She hopes to become a psychologist or a Latin teacher.

Susan is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Burt of 393 Crane Ave. She hopes to be a writer, and will get some experience this summer by writing continuity for Dana Jones’ WBEC program, “Around the World.”

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.