Community theatre has a long history in the United States. There is not a state in the union that does not have community theatre. There are also many community theatres all over the world.
What exactly is a community theatre? It is people in a community who work together to put on plays. For no pay they work many hours putting on plays for the people in their areas. Community theatres have been around since the 18th century. The Little Theatre movement of the early 20th century grew out of the community theatre movement. It wanted to offer alternatives to commercial theatre, often doing plays they originated or plays from Europe that the professional companies ignored. Some of these community theatres became quite famous such as the Pasadena Playhouse and the Provincetown Players who produced Eugene O’Neill’s one act plays. George Kelly’s The Torchbearers pokes affectionate fun at The Little Theatre movement.
Those who work in community theatre have other jobs or they may be retired theatrical professionals or students of acting who chose other careers. What binds them together is a love for theatre which makes them work either in front of the footlights or the many tasks backstage, building sets designing and sewing costumes, hanging lights, all of the many tasks that make the magic of theatre possible.
This area has been fortunate that The Dorset Players was founded 87 years ago and is still growing strong with its own theatre in Dorset, presenting plays in the fall, winter and spring until renting their theatre in the summer to the professional Dorset Theatre Festival. The Dorset Players offer a variety of productions each year that include classics, musicals, one act plays, something to appeal to everyone.
On Theate Talk Bob and I had the opportunity to talk to two of the Board members of the Dorset Players who also have other roles as actors, as director and as fund raiser, Jeff Linebeck and Mike McCord. You may listen to that program as well as look at The Dorset Players web site and the Association of American Community Theatre web site which provides a great deal of useful information about community theatre including how to start one.