The Library of Congress has plenty of strange photographs if you are willing to take the time to look through the archives. However, if you stumble upon the theater posters from plays by Charles H. Yale from the late 1800s and early 1900s, you will immediately start laughing at many of them. From devilish clowns to strange monkey-men doing acrobatics, the strange pictures of Yale plays makes you wonder what kind weird stuff was going down during those plays.
Online, there is little information about Charles H. Yale. There is a photograph of him at the University of Louisville archives website. Otherwise, what we do know from sources like Wikipedia is that he was born in 1853 and died in 1920 in New York. Ten years before he died, he started to fail in the New York theater business. In 1910, the New York Times published that his production called “Twelve Temptations” had $61,545 in liabilities but only $18,278 in assets.
He worked as an actor for many years playing banjo before he formed a partnership with two other producers in New York in 1897. He also worked for many years at a museum in Boston. When he took off with producers to start making plays of his own, his idea was to make musical plays that were operatic and spectacular. Indeed, many of his mini-series plays were titled as oddities and spectacles complete with costumes, amazing special effects, and wild acting. In the pictures below, many of these theater posters are from Yale’s productions of “Devil’s Advocate” and “The Evil Eye” AKA “Chas. H. Yale’s fantastic spectacle, The evil eye, or The many, merry mishaps of Nid and the weird, wonderful wanderings of Nod.”