The John Cranford Adams Playhouse was designed by Aymar Embury and was completed in 1958. It was officially named after Hofstra’s second President, John Cranford Adams, in 1974.

Dr. Adams served as president from 1944 to 1964 and was a renowned Shakespeare scholar who began the Drama Department’s annual Shakespeare Festival in 1958. Having published his doctoral dissertation on “The Structure of the Globe Playhouse Stage” in 1942, and having built a large-scale model of his conception of the Globe Theater, a 4/5th scale model of the Globe Stage, designed from Dr. Adams’ model and dissertation by Dr. Donald Swinney, was installed in Calkins Gymnasium to house this first festival.

The Playhouse stage was itself designed specifically to accommodate this set piece, which has been used in many of the subsequent Shakespeare Festivals.

The Playhouse has hosted such notables as Francis Ford Coppola (who, as a student at Hofstra, directed his first major production, The Delicate Touch, on the Playhouse Stage), Phil Rosenthal, Susan Sullivan, Jon Stewart, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachav, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, among many others.

The Adams Playhouse serves as one of the showplaces of the University, hosting symposia, dramatic productions, dance recitals, academic conferences, and official University ceremonies.

Seating Chart


Basic Technical Specifications

Proscenium arch is 45 feet wide by 23 feet by 3 inches high to the bottom of the frieze. Valance usually lowers this to approximately 15 feet by 6 inches for sightlines.

Upstage edge of pit is approximately 2 feet by 5 inches downstage of plaster line.

Pit is approximately 9 feet by 10.5 inches deep at center and approximately 45 feet wide.

Upstage edge of pit is parallel to plaster line 12 feet to both sides of center where it begins to curve towards house.

Downstage edge of pit is an arc that curves upstage making depth of pit smaller as you move away from center.

Depth of pit at 12 feet from center is approximately 8 feet by 9 inches. Depth of pit at approximately 22 feet from center is approximately 3 feet by 3 inches.



Alan Pittman
Director of Theater Facilities
Phone 516-463-5445
(Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

Playhouse Box Office
Phone 516-463-6644
(Monday - Friday, 11 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.)

Goslet Piper
House Manager
Phone 516-463-7215
(Evening and Weekend Events)

Technical Staff:
Phone: 516-463-6642

Peter Hague
Senior Supervisor

Brian Canese
Senior Supervisor

Brian Hetland
Senior Supervisor