Plays & Players Theater - Philadelphia
Plays & Players began in 1911 as a social club devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its membership. The first President, Maud Durbin Skinner, was the wife of the famed American actor Otis Skinner. The Plays & Players Theatre, then called the "Little Theatre of Philadelphia," first opened its doors in 1913. The theatre was founded by Beulah E. Jay and her husband Edward G. Jay, Jr. with acquaintance F.H. Shelton in an effort to produce "American plays of ideas," an underrepresented genre at the time. During its 100 years of performing, Plays & Players theater company has produced innumerable notable performances -- some of the most noteworthy being the world premiere of the acclaimed Broadway play "Stalag 17" in 1949, and a childhood performance by actor Kevin Bacon in "Member of the Wedding" in 1974. The first season of Plays & Players included "An Ideal Husband" by Oscar Wilde and "The Learned Ladies" by Moliere, both still popular plays today. On March 14, 1973, Plays & Players Theatre was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2009, Plays & Players transformed once more into its current mission focused on supporting and nurturing the work of local artists through professional performance and development. It hired its first Artistic Director and Managing Director in the over 100 years of its organization's history, and added a professional support staff to build its operational capacity. It has reached a level of prominence for the growing quality of its productions as well as its ability to nurture the careers of local artists through formal avenues such as its Playwright-in-Residence program and informal avenues such as the popular Quig's Pub as a gathering place for local artists. One of the hottest companies in town, and winner of Philadelphia Magazine's Best In Philly award two years in a row, Plays & Players has become a rare place where a rich past meets an exciting present.
Additionally over the past three years, Plays & Players has made great strides to improve upon the historic building. After completing a 10-Year master plan with recommendations on accessibility and sustainability, the board and staff have started fundraising to make some necessary improvements to the historic structure. Plays & Players has also expanded its ability to hold educational programming by organizing the resident artists to partner with local Philadelphia schools as teaching artists and by holding student matinees at little to no costs for school groups.