Ben Greet

Phillip Ben Greet
09/24/1857 - 05/17/1936

Phillip Ben Greet was born on Sept. 24, 1857 on a recruiting ship in the Thames captained by his father, William Greet. He was educated at the Royal Naval School and intended to go into the navy but decided to become a teacher instead. His first stage appearance was with J. W. Gordon's Stock Company in 1879. He started his own company in 1886 and played between 3,000 to 4,000 roles, traveling on both sides of the Atlantic doing mostly Shakespearean theater. He is responsible for bringing the parable play, "Everyman," to the United States. He returned to England at the beginning of World War I, where he continued doing Shakespearean theater and other plays, including "Everyman." He also began to present Shakespearean theater to school students. In 1931, he presented a production of the first quarto version of "Hamlet" at Columbia University. He never married, and many actors came into prominence working for him. He was noted in the "Seattle Times" for his tendencies toward minimalism, fidelity to source material, strict production rules that prohibited applause and other behavior, and imaginative productions meant to inspire escapism and engagement with the plays. It was common for him to open his productions at universities before taking them to local theaters, and in 1904, for the opening of "Everyman," he gave a lecture at the University of Washington, denouncing the sensationalism and amusement focus of American theater. He died on May 17, 1936. The "New York Times" called him "the veteran actor and manager who did more to popularize Shakespeare than any one else who ever lived" (1936).

Cultural Identity: 
Alternate Name: 
Performing Art Group Affiliations: 
Notable Roles: 
Bottom in "Midsummer Night's Dream"
Seattle Daily Times 13 May 1909, p.9; Seattle Daily Times 15 December 1904, p.7; Seattle Daily Times 12 December 1904, p.4; Seattle Daily Time 11 Dec 1904, p.47; Seattle Daily Times 10 May 1909, p.9; Seattle Daily Times 12 May 1909, p. 9. BEN GREET DIES, 78; FAMOUS _AS ACTOR. (May 18, 1936) New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from