The Hallam Company, which later became the American Company and then the Old American Company, was the first fully professional theatre company to perform in North America.
The company was organised by William Hallam, former proprietor of the New Wells Theatre in London, and was led by his brother Lewis Hallam. Their company consisted of 12 adults and 3 children, drawn from English actors of "modest accomplishment". They arrived by the vessel Charming Sally at Yorktown, Virginia, on 2 June 1752, and made their early performances in nearby Williamsburg. Their first performance, The Merchant of Venice, is generally considered to be the first professional staging of Shakespeare in America.
In 1753 the Hallam company moved to New York, and in 1754 they played in Philadelphia and in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1755 the company moved to the West Indies, and merged with the company of David Douglass. On Lewis' death, Douglass married his widow. Three years later, the company returned to tour the mainland, as the "American Company".
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