Plays and Players Theatre
Plays and Players Theater, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the oldest nonprofessional theater companies in the United States, founded in 1911. The theater building was designed and constructed in 1912 by Philadelphia architect Amos W. Barnes as a dramatic school, but soon was used as a theater for Broadway try-outs, known as the Playhouse. The theater company Plays and Players bought the building in 1922 and has performed there ever since. Murals were added in 1923 by the American artist Edith Emerson.

Plays and Players was founded in 1911 at the Art Alliance as a private social club devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its membership. Membership was an exclusive group of friends who commissioned works to be written and performed for charitable purposes. The first president, Maud Durbin Skinner, was the wife of American actor Otis Skinner, who performed upon the Delancey Street stage during its early history. Many other theatrical greats have acted here over the years, including the Barrymores, John Drew and Kevin Bacon. Plays and Players is very likely the community theater on which Philadelphia playwright George Kelly based his slapstick comedy The Torch Bearers. It is also the theater where the Broadway play Stalag 17 premiered. By the 1950s the membership of the club was less exclusive and more representative of the Center City community, but performances were still only for members. In the 1960s, its productions were opened to the entire community. In the '70s, the Plays and Players Children's Theater was added to the schedule. In addition, the theater has hosted many other artistic endeavors, including the Drama Guild, Pocket Playhouse, Gilbert and Sullivan Players, American Music Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC), and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

Current activities
Plays and Players is in a state of constant change as Center City populations are often transient. In their busiest seasons, Plays and Players produces several adult plays and 5-6 children's plays while supporting a workshop theater and full calendar of social events. The theatre has also taken its performances to nursery schools, swim clubs, street festivals and Philadelphia's Bicentennial Celebration. The Family Theater has remained active, but commitments to the building necessitated a hiatus of their own adult productions in favor of rental income. Since 1982 Plays and Players has been the home of the professional regional Philadelphia Theatre Company, their in-house rental. The 2006-2007 season was the Philadelphia Theatre Company's last at the Plays and Players Theater, when the group moved to its own venue, the Suzanne Roberts Theater, in October 2007. Preparations are underway to fill the gap from Philadelphia Theatre Company's departure with their own, original productions and new rental partners. Lighting and sound equipment improvements are planned. More Family Theater productions are being brought to the main stage including It's a Wonderful Life, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Secret Garden, and James and the Giant Peach . Recent adult productions include Half The Rent in America, La Cage Aux Folles and the member-written premiere of The Department.

Building Activity

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