It is the general impression that theatrical performances in colleges are of cent origin, but if anyone will take the trouble to look into the matter a little, he will find not only that drama-acting among students was very common hundreds of years ago, but also that it was directly encouraged by the college authorities. The first play which was ever acted at school or college, was one written by a certain Undall who was at one time Head-master of Eton. It is of special interest for the reason that it was probably the first English comedy ever written. His pupils gave the performance at Christmas, and from that time forward the drama flourished at these institutions.
Everyone remembers the reply Polonius makes to Hamlet, who asked him if he did not at one time act in the University. Polonius not only admits it but is rather proud of it. "I did enact Julius Caesar, I was killed i' the capital." It is recorded that Queen Elizabeth attended amateur performances of the students at Oxford and at Cambridge, and was highly pleased with the endeavors of the striplings. At that time it was the custom, when any distinguished personage paid a visit to the Universities, to entertain him in royal style, and the representation of some old play was always a prominent feature of the entertainment.
But there was a long period when the Drama was neglected at institutions of learning, and it was not until recent years that it has been brought into any prominence. Probably the most stupendous undertaking, and certainly the most successful in the way of college theatricals, was the presentation of the Greek play here at Harvard in the spring of 1881. There is a rumor abroad that the Shakspere Club is to play certain portions of Julius Caesar the coming spring.