Dorset Theatre Festival
Dorset Theatre Festival’s mission is to create bold, innovative, and authentic theatre that engages a diverse, multi-generational community, and economically diverse region: enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring our audience through the celebration of great plays. We aim to redefine the landscape of theatre by presenting thought-provoking productions drawn from the new and classic canon, as well as through the development of new plays, new audiences, and new artists for the future of American theater. We produce theatre that matters.
In the 2018 season we presented the third production of the award-winning play Cry It Out by Molly Smith Metzler. Dorset’s production was highlighted in American Theatre magazine for being one of the first theatres to present this groundbreaking new play that has become one of the most-produced plays in the country. The 2019 season included two world premieres: Mrs. Christie by Heidi Armbruster and Dig, written and directed by Theresa Rebeck.
The Festival’s 2017 World Premiere of Rebeck’s Downstairs starring Tim and Tyne Daly transferred to New York City the following fall, produced by Primary Stages, and has more regional productions to follow. The shift in our programming towards new plays over the last decade has allowed us to increase our capacity to support new work. This past season showcased a lineup of almost entirely new work, half of which Dorset Theatre Festival had a hand in creating and will be moving on to New York City and productions around the country.
The Pipeline Series of New Plays offers burgeoning playwrights a week-long retreat in Dorset during the summer season. With a director and a cast of professional actors, the playwrights prepare one-night-only staged readings of their new plays, offering our audience a glimpse at the play-development process and our artistic staff an opportunity to gauge a play’s potential for success in future seasons. In 2016, playwright Martyna Majok presented 30 pages of her play that would become the 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winner, Cost of Living.
Our track record of providing industry-recognized support and development opportunities to artists, as well as the world-class theater we produce at the historic Dorset Playhouse each summer, makes Dorset Theatre Festival a national resource and a cherished local treasure for the people who live, work, and vacation here.
Over the past decade the Dorset Theatre Festival has become a national incubator for new play development, committed to nurturing new plays and playwrights who are innovative, authentic and celebrate our common humanity. The Festival has taken huge steps forward in living our mission to create bold, innovative, and authentic theatre, and in any given year, the Festival is developing more than a dozen new plays. As the Festival grows, we build our internal capacity for robustly supporting the production of World Premieres, as well as Regional Premieres and second and third productions of new works.
The Festival’s summer home is an intimate theatre built from 2 pre-revolutionary barns. Opening its doors to local thespians in 1929, the Dorset Playhouse became host to the professional Equity Summer Festival in 1977. Today, Dorset Theatre Festival is a rich cultural resource and integral part of the community. Whether we’re staging dramatic classics, producing great plays from the contemporary canon, or providing a platform for fresh new theatrical voices, the Festival is always pursuing its single mission: to create an environment in which our audiences can experience thought‐provoking, inspiring, and entertaining live theatre.
Through our Giving Back program and educational outreach, we also even the playing field for under-served populations and families and bring them into the theatre experience. We partner with other nonprofit organizations to support creativity, build community engagement, and enrich the cultural landscape. Our goal is to make excellent theatre a shared community experience and inspire our audiences to think, laugh, and feel long after the curtain falls.
Dorset Theatre Festival is a nonprofit organization supported by individuals like you who believe that live theatre enriches our experiences as a community and connects us to what makes us human.
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