During the early spring of 1927, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Goodman, devotees of the performing arts, were able to interest a number of Dorset residents in producing a play. In April of that year, a three-act play entitled 39 East was presented at the Dorset Town Hall and was received with great enthusiasm. That success led shortly to the formation of an organization called The Dorset Players. Owing to the physical limitations of the Town Hall, a Playhouse was built, through proceeds from plays, a bank loan, and many generous gifts. The Dorset Playhouse was officially opened on July 2, 1929. Throughout the early 1930’s The Dorset Players flourished. World War II put an end to productions until 1946 when Paul Stevenson joined the Players. In 1949, The Dorset Players began a long and fruitful association with the Caravan Theatre and Fred and Pat Carmichael. The first of many original plays by Fred Carmichael, The Green Snowman, was produced in 1953. In June 1976, John Nassivera and Jill Charles rented the Playhouse for the summer and presented a professional season under the name of Harlequin, Ltd. Now known as the Dorset Theatre Festival, this non-profit Equity Company continues to offer professional summer theatre at the Playhouse. The Dorset Players, the non-professional theater group that owns the Playhouse, has developed an active Fall-Winter-Spring season. The Players have expanded far beyond its original nucleus of Dorset residents to all those in the Northshire who loved theater. Three area barns went into the construction of our original Playhouse. In 1999, The Dorset Players and The Dorset Theatre Festival undertook a 3 million dollar restoration of the historic Dorset Playhouse. In June 2001, the newly restored playhouse opened with improved sightlines, more comfortable seating, more restroom facilities, and a new rehearsal studio. The three area barns that went into the construction of the original building have been incorporated into the new design. We are very proud of our new facility and look forward to continued productions that the community can enjoy for years to come.
Visit Dorset Players for information on their current season.
Dorset Theatre Festival
Dorset Theatre Festival is a world class summer theatre festival located in Dorset, VT. The Festival produces 5 Main-stage plays each summer between June through September. Known for its world premieres of new plays, its regional premieres of Tony Award winning plays from the contemporary canon, as well as expertly produced traditional family programming, the Festival attracts top talent from Broadway and beyond to the quaint village of Dorset each summer to great acclaim.
Our 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.
Visit Dorset Theatre Festival for information on the current season.