Temple Civic Theatre, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, was formed by a group of interested citizens in 1965. An earlier group, called Old Central Players, had become inactive, so a new name was chosen.
The first play produced was You Can’t Take It With You. Temple Civic Theatre, operating with its own board of governors and incorporated as a non-profit arts organization in November 1968, worked under the Cultural Activities Center as a member organization. In 1974, because of its growth and success, the group had to “leave home and find a place of its own.” Today, the theatre and the Cultural Activities Center operate cooperatively from separate spaces, both built in 1977. The first production in the theatre’s new building was My Fair Lady, April 15, 1977.
The building is an 11,000-square-foot plant containing a 228-seat thrust stage auditorium, two large dressing rooms, offices, classrooms, a kitchen, restrooms, a large scene shop, and a costume shop. It was surrounded in 1989 by paved, curbed, lighted parking, with landscaping and improved signage.
In 1992, more renovation work was performed to help bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The women’s restroom size was doubled, and a new men’s restroom was built, both made accessible to handicapped persons. Handicap seating and parking were increased. Wireless listening devices were added for the hearing impaired.
The facility is valued at over $400,000. Payment was made completely from local donations in support of the theatre.
Staff growth has proceeded from entirely volunteer through part-time management to its current full-time managing and artistic director and full-time technical director, with an assistant to the managing and artistic director, and contracted youth theatre teachers.
The average number of season ticket holders is 1300, with over 300 volunteers working regularly each season. Operations are coordinated through the managing director with a 12-member Board of Governors and volunteer committee chairmen. New volunteers are accepted and trained throughout the year. Main-series shows are cast from open auditions with a loosely-held goal of 50% experienced actors and 50% new participants, in an effort to stabilize quality while encouraging growth.
In the first year of the theatre’s incorporation, three plays were done. Now, six shows are performed on the main series, with as many as three other shows being produced as extra special productions referred to as “Spotlight Productions.”
Selected by a process beginning with a play reading committee chosen from volunteers and regular audience members, the main series is an overview of theatre literature, featuring musicals, classics, and recently-released titles. Special productions are designed for smaller interest groups in shorter run than the more commercial main series. They include original plays, one-man shows, concerts by local musicians, and plays of a more serious or intellectual theme than the general audience member may wish to attend.
Children’s activities have always been of prime importance, with the theatre’s philosophy on youth participation being the integration of children and young people into the overall program. In its early years, a children’s theatre day camp was conducted each summer. Later, a producing group of teenagers was added. Formal classes in creative drama, a traveling play for public schools using adult actors, and a youth production workshop in the summer have been included in recent years