Cross and Sword
Cross and Sword, an outdoor reenactment of the founding of St. Augustine (with a lot more singing and dancing than at the original event) was presented ten summer weeks every year in the 2,000 seat St. Augustine Amphitheater on Anastasia Island.
The play was created in honor of St. Augustine's 400th Anniversary in 1965. It was written by Paul Green, winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his Broadway play In Abrahamís Bosom. Beginning in 1937, with North Carolina's The Lost Colony (still in production!), Green created the "symphonic drama," a blending of music, dance, pantomime and poetic dialogue into one larger than life historical play, making him the obvious go-to guy for this sort of project.
Cross and Sword premiered June 27, 1965, and, in 1973 was designated Florida's official state play by the Florida Legislature.
It was, however, an expensive production, presented in an aging theater that needed expensive renovations as time went on, just as tourism shifted away from the area and changes in State funding rules reduced the cash available for upkeep. State funding dried up completely when Cross and Sword lost its automatic funding and had to compete, unsuccessfully, as it turns out, for available State-funded arts grants.
Cross and Sword asked the state Division of Cultural Affairs for $27,089 in 1997 and was turned down. The 1996 season was the show's last.
Renovations have, meanwhile, been made to the amphitheater, which has continued to be used for other things. There's always the possibility that Cross and Sword will be revived, someday, for at least a limited run if not at the same permanence as before. Assuming, that is, they can find the funds.
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Photo courtesy of The Florida Archives Photographic Collection.
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