Community theatre

Community theatre refers to theatrical performance made in relation to particular communities—its usage includes theatre made by, with, and for a community. It may refer to theatre that is made entirely by a community with no outside help, or to a collaboration between community members and professional theatre artists, or to performance made entirely by professionals that is addressed to a particular community. Community theatres range in size from small groups led by single individuals that perform in borrowed spaces to large permanent companies with well-equipped facilities of their own. Many community theatres are successful, non-profit businesses with a large active membership and, often, a full-time professional staff. Community theatre is often devised and may draw on popular theatrical forms, such as carnival, circus, and parades, as well as performance modes from commercial theatre.

Community theatre is understood to contribute to the social capital of a community, insofar as it develops the skills, community spirit, and artistic sensibilities of those who participate, whether as producers or audience-members. It is used as a tool for social development, promoting ideas like gender equality, human rights, environment and democracy. Most of the community theatre practices have been developed based on the philosophy of education theorist Paulo Freire's approach of critical pedagogy in theatre and implementation techniques built by Augusto Boal, known as Theatre of the Oppressed. Freire's approach attempted to stimulate social change by encouraging the audience to build capacities for critical thinking through participation in active dialogue. The participants would identify issues of concerns and discuss possible solutions, with an enhanced tolerance for different perspectives with regard to the same problem. Such plays are then rarely performed in traditional playhouses but rather staged on streets, public places, in traditional meeting spaces, schools, prisons, or other institutions, inviting an alternative and often spontaneous audience to watch.[1]

Community theatre is distinct from amateur theatre which, while it may be community-based, is non-professional.

In Latin America

Partly inspired by Antonio Gramsci's interpretation of culture, the seminal theatre practitioner Augusto Boal developed a series of techniques known as the Theatre of the Oppressed from his work developing community theatre in Latin America.[2]

In the United Kingdom

In Britain the term "community theatre" is sometimes used to distinguish theatre made by professional theatre artists with or for particular communities from that made entirely by non-professionals, which is usually known as "amateur theatre" or "amateur dramatics."[3] Notable practitioners include Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop, John McGrath and Elizabeth MacLennan and their 7:84 company, Welfare State International,[4] and Ann Jellicoe founder of the Colway Theatre Trust, now known as the Claque Theatre and run by UK practitioner Jon Oram.

In the Netherlands

Community theatre in the Netherlands came about after the ending of the "theater-in-education" movement. This "theatre-in-education" movement lasted from 1970-1985. The big theatre in the Netherlands which was created originally for "theatre-in-education" and subsequently community theatre is the Stut Theatre. This theatre idea was started in 1977 by Jos Bours and Marlies Hautvast, who when they first starting creating plays at the Stut Theatre, realized this kind of community-theatre had a complete different approach from "theatre-in-education."

In the United States

Community theatre in the United States was an outgrowth of the Little Theatre Movement, a reform movement which began in 1912 in reaction to massive Victorian melodramatic theatre spectacles.[5] However, the country’s oldest extant community theatre group, the Footlight Club, has existed since the 19th century and performed every year since 1877.

The American Association of Community Theatre represents community theaters in the U.S., its territories, and its military bases around the world.

In Canada

Theatre Passe Muraille sent ensemble casts into rural communities to record local stories, songs, accents and lifestyle. Their employment of collective creation was thus taken to an unheard of scale and spread across Canada.[6] Passe Muraille facilitated the first production of Codco, which employed personal experiences of Newfoundland culture in their shows.[7]

The Boardmore Playhouse, named in honor of Elizabeth and Harry Boardmore, is a 337-seat venue which is the centre for the performing arts at Cape Breton University. The Playhouse is home to CBU Boardmore Theatre which presents an annual season of plays, including plays for young audiences, four to five full-length plays, a bi-annual Shakespeare production and a bi-annual Broadway Musical, and a one-week one act play festival with an emphasis on new play development. Throughout the school year and summer months the CBU Boardmore Playhouse is also involved with a number of community projects. The Playhouse provides practical expertise to community theatre groups in the form of workshops for young people as well as advice and leadership in summer theatre programs. Open auditions are held each September for anyone interested in getting involved in any aspect of the theatre. Auditions are held the weekend following the first week of classes.

In Australia

In Western Australia, there is a substantial number of community theatre groups who have banded together to form the Independent Theatre Association.[8]


  1. ^ Scharinger, J. 2013
  2. ^ Boal (2008).
  3. ^ Banham (1998, 911).
  4. ^ Banham (1998, 911-912), MacLennan (1990), McGrath (1981, 1990, 1996), Coult and Kershaw (1983), Kershaw (1992).
  5. ^ Banham (1998, 238-239) and Noe (2005).
  6. ^ "Passe Muraille". Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  7. ^ "Codco". Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  8. ^ "Independent Theatre Association". Retrieved January 31, 2010.


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0-521-43437-8.
  • Boal, Augusto. 2008. Theatre of the Oppressed. New ed. London: Pluto. ISBN 0-7453-2838-5.
  • Bradby, David, and John McCormick. 1978. People's Theatre. London: Croom Helm and Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 0-85664-501-X.
  • Coult, Tony, and Baz Kershaw, eds. 1983. Engineers of the Imagination: The Welfare State Handbook. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-52800-6.
  • Gooch, Steve. 1984. All Together Now: An Alternative View of Theatre and the Community. Methuen Theatrefile Ser. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-53480-4.
  • Heddon, Deirdre, and Jane Milling. 2005. Devising Performance: A Critical History. Theatre & Performance Practices ser. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-0662-9.
  • Kershaw, Baz. 1992. The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05763-9.
  • MacLennan, Elizabeth. 1990. The Moon Belongs to Everyone: Making Theatre with 7:84. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-64150-3.
  • McGrath, John. 1981. A Good Night Out: Popular Theatre: Audience, Class and Form. London: Nick Hern Books, 1996. ISBN 1-85459-370-6.
  • McGrath, John. 1990. The Bone Won't Break: On Theatre and Hope in Hard Times. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-63260-1.
  • McGrath, John. 1996. Six-Pack: Plays for Scotland. Edinburgh: Polygon. ISBN 0-7486-6201-4.
  • Noe, Marcia. 2005. "The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922/Composing Ourselves: The Little Theatre Movement and the American Audience." Review. American Drama (Winter). Available online.
  • Schechter, Joel, ed. 2003. Popular Theatre: A Sourcebook. Worlds of Performance Ser. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-25830-8.
  • Van Erven, Eugene. 2001. Community Theatre: Global Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19031-2.
  • Scharinger, J. 2013. Participatory theater, is it really? A critical examination of practices in Timor-Leste. ASEAS - Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies,6(1),102-119. Available here.

See also

A Streetcar Named Marge

"A Streetcar Named Marge" is the second episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 1, 1992. In the episode, Marge wins the role of Blanche DuBois in a community theatre musical version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. Homer offers little support for his wife's acting pursuits, and Marge begins to see parallels between him and Stanley Kowalski, the play's boorish lead male character. The episode contains a subplot in which Maggie Simpson attempts to retrieve her pacifier from a strict daycare owner.

Jeff Martin wrote the episode, and Rich Moore served as director. Jon Lovitz made his fourth guest appearance on The Simpsons, this time as musical director Llewellyn Sinclair, as well as Llewellyn's sister, who runs the daycare. The episode generated controversy for its original song about New Orleans, which contains several unflattering lyrics about the city. One New Orleans newspaper published the lyrics before the episode aired, prompting numerous complaints to the local Fox affiliate; in response, the president of Fox Broadcasting issued an apology to anyone who was offended. Despite the controversial song, the episode was well received by many fans, and show creator Matt Groening has named it one of his favorite episodes.

Amateur theatre

Amateur theatre, also known as amateur dramatics, is theatre performed by amateur actors and singers. Amateur theatre groups may stage plays, revues, musicals, light opera, pantomime or variety shows, and do so for the social activity as well as the artistic side. Productions may take place in venues ranging from the open air, community centres or schools to independent or major professional theatres and can be simple light entertainment or demanding drama.

Amateur theatre is distinct from the professional or community theatre simply in that participants are not paid, although this is not always the case, even though the productions staged may be commercial ventures, either to fund further productions, to benefit the community, or for charity.

Amateur actors are not typically members of actors' unions, as these organisations exist to protect the professional industry and discourage their members from working with companies which are not signatories to union contracts.

Berkeley Community Theatre

Berkeley Community Theatre is a theatre located in Berkeley, California, on the campus of Berkeley High School. The theater is used by Berkeley High School and the Berkeley Unified School District.

The theater building also holds the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, a smaller theater that is often used for Berkeley High School music and theater performances.

Community Theatre (Pine Bluff, Arkansas)

The Community Theatre is a historic theatre building at 207 West 2nd Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It is a two-story brick building, finished in stucco, with Moderne styling. It was built in 1889, and housed first a furniture store, and then a five and dime, before being converted for theatrical use in the 1920s. Its present Moderne styling dates to renovations made in the wake of a 1951 fire.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Crescent Theatre

The Crescent Theatre is a non-professional theatre run mostly by volunteers, in Sheepcote Street, Brindleyplace, in Birmingham, England.

It houses one of the oldest theatre companies in the city: The Crescent Theatre Company. The Crescent also plays host to numerous visiting companies every year, both amateur and professional.

The company began, as the Municipal Players, in 1924. The first theatre was a converted building, formerly Baskerville Hall, in The Crescent, Cambridge Street. The first production was Edmund Rostand's "The Romantics" in 1932. The theatre moved to newly built premises on Cumberland Street in 1964, designed by Graham Winteringham of S.T. Walker and Partners, with a seating capacity of 296. The apron stage and first seven rows of seats were on a revolving platform to turn the interior into an arena theatre. The two-storey building was faced with London stock bricks and black-framed windows. Phase Two of the construction would have included a restaurant and a rehearsal stage.

The present theatre was opened in 1998 by Celia Imrie. The theatre it replaced was demolished in the same year. It houses two performance spaces: The Main House, and the Ron Barber Studio. The Main House seats up to 340, and the Studio up to 120. The building was designed by Terry Farrell and John Chatwin.

The theatre is run by a board of directors elected from the membership including chairman, secretary and treasurer. They oversee the general direction of the theatre and all the membership activities. There is a small team of paid staff who look after the day-to-day running of the building and supervise the visiting companies. Throughout the year they play host to a variety of companies of different sizes including Birmingham Royal Ballet, Midland Opera, Stage2, Birmingham School of Acting, Birmingham Conservatiore, Bournville MTC, The Arcadians, Tinker's Farm Opera, Midland Theatre Ballet and The Rep.

Dave's Picks Volume 24

Dave's Picks Volume 24 is a three-CD live album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It contains the complete concert recorded at the Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, California on August 25, 1972. It was produced as a limited edition of 16,500 copies, and was released on November 1, 2017.On copies of the show that had previously circulated online, the last three songs were missing.

The next concert performed by the band, two days later, is documented in the film and album Sunshine Daydream.

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Fort Dodge is a city in and the county seat of Webster County, Iowa, United States, along the Des Moines River. The population was 25,206 in the 2010 census, an increase from 25,136 in the 2000 census. Fort Dodge is a major commercial center for North Central and Northwest Iowa. It is located on U.S. Routes 20 and 169.

Greenwood Community Theatre

Greenwood Community Theatre, or GCT, is a non-profit theatre in Greenwood, South Carolina. Greenwood Community Theatre officially began in 1954.

GCT reopened in January 2007 after an extensive 1.2 million dollar renovation offers theatre, musical theatre, comedy, dramas, classic films, Indie films, music concerts and many rentals to local and touring organizations and businesses.


Support for renovations came with the city’s decision in the early 2000s to anchor its downtown revival with historic properties.

After being closed for 18 months to remodel, the theatre re-opened in February 2007 for the production Anything Goes. Renovations preserved the original terrazzo tile floor in the lobby. Improvements included seating capacity for nearly 300, better access for wheelchairs, new riggings, curtains, the addition of a catwalk, and an upgraded sound and lighting system.

Hendrix in the West

Hendrix in the West is a posthumous live album by Jimi Hendrix, released in January 1972 by Polydor Records, and later in February by Reprise Records. The album contains songs from Hendrix's performances at the Royal Albert Hall on February 24, 1969, the San Diego Sports Arena on May 24, 1969, Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970 and the Isle of Wight Festival on August 30, 1970. The album's credits mislabel "Little Wing" and "Voodoo Child" as being recorded at the San Diego Sports Arena, when in fact these two tracks were recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on February 24, 1969. The album reached No. 7 in the UK albums chart, and No. 12 in the Billboard 200.This album was re-released on September 13, 2011 as part of the Hendrix family's project to remaster Hendrix's discography. Since the rights to the Royal Albert Hall performance of "Little Wing" and "Voodoo Child" on the original LP are in dispute, the newly released CD contains alternate performances of the two songs.

Hillsboro Artists' Regional Theatre

Hillsboro Artists' Regional Theatre (HART), originally the Hillsboro Actors Repertory Theater, is a community theatre group in Hillsboro, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1994, the non-profit group presents around six plays each year. Their 99-seat theater is located in downtown Hillsboro next to the Hillsboro Civic Center along Washington Street.

Ilkley Playhouse

Ilkley Playhouse is a live theatre in Ilkley, England. It is owned and run by Ilkley Players Ltd a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Ilkley Playhouse is run by an Executive Committee and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers drawn from its membership.Ilkley Playhouse is dedicated to the presentation of live amateur theatre and other arts activities within the community and welcomes members and visitors to a season of eight main-house and two studio productions per annum, plus many other events including touring productions and special events. It also hosts community arts events such as the Ilkley Film Society and the Ilkley Literature Festival. Ilkley Players Ltd is a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain. (LTG)

The Ilkley Playhouse also runs Greenroom classes for younger students who annually perform their

own production.

Johnny B. Goode (album)

Johnny B. Goode is a posthumous live album by Jimi Hendrix released in June 1986. It contains three songs from Hendrix's performance at the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival on July 4, 1970, and two songs from Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970.Marketed as a "mini LP" soundtrack, it was released at the same time as a video album with the same title, but with more performances from Atlanta Pop. More complete performances from both concerts were released on Live at Berkeley (2003) and Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival (2015) (see Jimi Hendrix videography for more information about video releases).

Las Vegas Little Theater

Las Vegas Little Theater is a community theater in Las Vegas, Nevada that was founded in 1978 by Jack Bell and Jack Nickolson. Acting classes are available. It is the oldest operating small theater in the valley.

Live at Berkeley

Live at Berkeley is a posthumous live album by English-American rock band The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It documents the band's second performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970, and was released by MCA Records on September 16, 2003.

Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates (Arabic: مول الإمارات‎) is a shopping mall in Dubai. Developed and owned by Majid Al Futtaim Properties, it opened in November 2005 and is located at interchange four on Sheikh Zayed road.

The multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants & Cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. It has a total gross leasable area of 255,489 square meters. It also hosts family leisure activities including Ski Dubai (the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park), the 500-seat capacity Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre and Magic planet, one of the largest indoor family entertainment centres in Dubai.In November 2005, it was named the World's Leading New Shopping Mall at the World Travel Awards in London. Forbes has also recognized Mall of the Emirates as one of the top five shopping malls in Dubai.

Play (theatre)

A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.

South London Theatre

The South London Theatre is a Community theatre in West Norwood in the London Borough of Lambeth, England. The first play opened in October 1967, and it is now a busy theatrical venue, presenting more than 22 shows annually in two auditoria: the 100-seater proscenium arch "Bell Theatre" and a smaller "black box theatre" called "Prompt Corner", it also has a private basement bar open 363 nights a year which is host to regular social events.

The plays produced include all genres: Shakespeare, comedy, classics, pantomime, musicals and modern cutting-edge drama. New writing is particularly encouraged, as are aspiring directors. There are plenty of available roles behind scenes and help and encouragement is given to new members.

There is a very active youth group (known as the "South London Youth Theatre") as well as children's classes. The children have their own showcases and are also encouraged to participate in the main productions.

The South London Theatre is a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain.

The Bob Hope Theatre

The Bob Hope Theatre is a community theatre in Eltham in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, England. The theatre is owned and run by the members of Eltham Little Theatre Company. The theatre's own repertory members present approximately 11 shows each year, including a pantomime every January, and an annual musical. A variety of other companies also perform at the theatre throughout the year – about 15 additional productions.

The Questors Theatre

The Questors Theatre is a theatre venue located in the London Borough of Ealing, west London. It is home of The Questors, a large theatre company which hosts a season of around twenty productions a year and is a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain and the International Amateur Theatre Association.

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