When was Shakespeare first performed at the White House?
George Washington hosted a private production of Julius Caesar in “the garret of the presidential mansion” in the winter of 1790. But Washington never lived in the White House, which was still under construction. As president, he lived in a private house in Philadelphia.
English actor-director Ben Greet brought his Woodland Players to the White House for an outdoor performance in October 1908, during the Theodore Roosevelt administration. Greet was well known for his outdoor Shakespeare productions, but for the White House performance he put on a modern adaptation of Greek myths—not Shakespeare.
In June 1910, First Lady Nellie Taft finally staged Shakespeare at the White House with a pair of outdoor performances by the acting company of Charles and Ivah Coburn. The gala affair, held to benefit the Washington Playground Association, included an afternoon performance of Twelfth Night and an illuminated evening performance of As You Like It, as well as a 70-member female chorus and a concert by the Marine Corps Band.
This printed program documents the first performances of Shakespeare at the White House, productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It by the Coburn Players in June 1910. White House Historical Association.