|Arizona Classical Theatre, A History|
Arizona Classical Theatre was founded in
Our opening night that year was a benefit for Turning Point, a local troubled teen outreach program. The first festival featured artists-in-residence Phillip Curry, Mary Sprenger, and D. Rogers Luben (performers), and Paul Silverman (director).
In 2000, we relocated the Festival to
Due to a generous donation from an individual sponsor, we were able to feature three guest actors and a guest director, as well as two costume designers, a guest production stage manager, a fight choreographer and a technical director. (Guests that year included Ronnie Clark, Mary Sprenger, Caleb Terray, and Leslie Ann Kent) Our resident volunteer staff grew from two to six members, and we began our ongoing Educational Outreach program into our community.
2001 saw several bold strides forward. In addition to increasing support from individuals and local business, we received our first grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which allowed us to bring out three guest actors when we only anticipated being able to bring out one. We also created and launched our improvisational/dramatic performance troupe, “The World’s Greatest Shakespeare Company Presents The History Of King Henry the Fifth. Since that premiere, the WGSC has performed year round at schools, performance festivals, and events throughout
In 2002, we began expanding our season further. In February, we presented a premiere staged reading of a new play, Ophelia, by
2003 marked a turning point for ACT. Through the support of our sponsors, we acquired an indoor rehearsal/performance space and expanded our season to year-round productions, which we christened The Harriett Lipphardt Theatre WorkSpace. The space opened to the public in April with a production of Don Nigro’s play Seascape with Sharks and Dancer. In addition to using our home space as an office and headquarters, we held ongoing performance classes, and hosted our first week long Youth Acting Intensive in July of that year. In May of 2003, the WGSC presented The Hanging Whores of Babylon, another in their ongoing series of original plays. In June, the company featured a dinner theatre world premiere of the romantic comedy Amici by local playwright Micki Shelton.
The 2003 Arizona Shakespeare Festival featured Macbeth and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Our audience attendance increased 42%, and we enjoyed more out of town guests than ever before. In October, the WGSC presented the second of their original shows for the year. The Hanging Whores of Babylon, part II at the M.A.D. Linguist in downtown
In 2004, we continued to produce year round, creating original works and working with new and established playwrights. We doubled the length of our summer Youth Acting Intensive. After years of performing in Tsunami on the Square Festival, we were asked to be the producers of that year’s “skitmercials”, one of the highlights of that festival.
2005 was viewed as a reconstruction year. While the past several years saw the company's repertoire and exposure expanding, its financial performance was not keeping pace. The newly enlisted managing director and board members placed their emphasis on fundraising and fiscal stability.
The WGSC produced original performances on a monthly and bi-monthly basis which began in January. The WGSC completed their 3 part series loosely based upon The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri, containing titles such as Cab Ride Through Hell, Presence at the Pearly Gates and A Growing Darkness. Our educational outreach program had a chance to expand to
2007 celebrated our 10th season, and in honor of ten years, we decided to go back to the beginning and performed Othello, directed by Mary Sprenger Spence and A Midsummer Nights Dream directed by Nathanial Montgomery.
In 2008 we went back to our roots and took the company in a new and exciting direction with our first ever state wide tour. With a cast of 12, an abridged script and a very portable set we took As You Like It to 20 cities and locations all over the state.