MacKaye, Steele

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Steele MacKaye (James Morrison Steele MacKaye), 1842–94, American dramatist and inventor in theatrical scene design. After studying in Europe he went to the United States (c.1872) and first appeared in New York with a group of students he had trained in the Delsarte system. He opened the Madison Square Theatre in 1879, where his most successful melodrama, Hazel Kirke, was presented (1880). It was in this theater that he invented and installed overhead and indirect stage lighting, movable stages or wagons, and folding seats. He then took over the Lyceum where he established the first school of acting in New York City, later known as the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

See Epoch (1927) by his son, Percy MacKaye.