Strand Theatre, Booker T., Empire Theatre and Little Theatre
The November Theatre and Theatre Gym
|Part of||Broad Street Commercial Historic District (Richmond, Virginia) (#87000611)|
|Designated CP||April 09, 1987|
Virginia Rep Center
|Address||114 West Broad Street
|Owner||Virginia Repertory Theatre|
|Opened||Dec. 25, 1911|
|Architect||Scarborough & Howell|
Theatre IV is the second largest children's theatre in the nation and the largest in-school touring theatre company in the nation. In 1975, Theatre IV was founded by Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway, becoming the state's first professional theatre for young audiences. It began as a touring company, performing around the nation at elementary schools and recreation centers. In 1977, Theatre IV presented its first main stage production at downtown Richmond's historic Empire Theatre. In 2012, the Empire Theatre was renamed the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre in honor of a $2 million gift to renovate the historic building. The November Theatre has been used as a film location on several occasions including for Steven Spielberg's 2012 film Lincoln. Theatre IV merged with Barksdale Theatre in 2012 to become Virginia Repertory Theatre.
Programs and initiatives
- 1975 Theatre IV was founded by Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway, becoming Virginia’s first professional theatre for young audiences.
- 1979 In partnership with St. Catherine’s School, Theatre IV founded the Communication Skills Workshop for Hearing Impaired Students—the first training program in Virginia to use theatre professionals and activities to enhance speech instruction for hearing impaired and profoundly deaf children.
- 1983 In partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services and Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, Theatre IV created and began touring Hugs and Kisses, Virginia’s principal child sexual abuse prevention program, written by Artistic Director Bruce Miller. Now in its 30th year, Hugs has been presented to over 1.47 million children in every school district statewide. Nearly 14,000 Virginia children have disclosed their sexual victimization for the first time following performances of Hugs and Kisses, thereafter receiving from the VA DSS the help they need.
- 1985 In partnership with the National Network of Runaway and Youth Services and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Theatre IV created and began touring Runners, a landmark delinquency prevention program, based on interviews with 42 runaways living in Virginia’s halfway houses and emergency shelters.
- 1986 Theatre IV became the second performing arts company in Virginia history (Barter in the 40s and 50s was the first) to launch an annual performance residency in New York City. Now in its 26th year, Theatre IV’s annual residency is Virginia’s longest ongoing tie to the USA's arts and entertainment capital. Our annual week in NYC is always fully funded by New Yorkers.
- 1987 Presented locally and nationally with support from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving), Walking the Line premiered as Theatre IV’s award-winning alcohol and other drug abuse prevention program. The play was subsequently translated into Spanish and tours Puerto Rico.
- 1988 Theatre IV began its Tickets for Kids policy, donating 10% of all main stage tickets and touring performances to less advantaged children, families and schools, ensuring that no one is turned away from the theatre's productions because of their inability to pay.
- 1989 In partnership with the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), Department of Pediatric Medicine, Theatre IV created and began touring Dancing in the Dark, a “just say later” program that confronts the issues of adolescent pregnancy and sexual responsibility.
- 1991 Theatre IV produced the world premiere of Four Part Harmony, a musical based on the experiences of Vietnam POWs and their wives, created by Marcus Fisk and Doug Minerd. Nam-POWs, the national fraternal organization of former prisoners, convened in Richmond so that 42 members could attend the Opening Night performance together.
- 1992 In partnership with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Safe Kids Coalition, Theatre IV created and toured Better Safe Than Sally, a child safety program addressing the issues of fire, gun, electric, auto, bike, skateboard, swimming and household accident safety.
- 1994 Martha Gilbert was elected President of the Board of Directors of Theatre IV, marking the first time in Virginia history that an African-American was elected President of a major Virginia nonprofit arts organization (annual budget of $1,000,000 or more). Dr. Monroe Harris and Dianne Roberts subsequently become the 2nd and 3rd leaders to achieve this, both at TIV.
- 1995 Theatre IV re-established the Richmond Boys Choir as a sole member subsidiary, providing funding and mentorship for three years until the choir was ready to move forward on its own.
- 2000 The Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH partnered with Theatre IV to address effectively the disproportionate number of African-American children who were killed in car accidents due to improper use of seatbelts and child safety seats. Theatre IV created and began touring Give Us This Day, a dramatized sermon and prevention program for performances in African-American churches.
- 2000 Theatre IV organized and began implementing Great Kids Virginia, a three-year Virginia Business-Education Partnership with 29 school districts statewide. The purpose of the program was to use the theatre arts to raise student achievement in core subject areas by increasing parental involvement and supporting instruction of the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs). Over the next three years, over 1,500 performances were delivered to over 525,000 students in mostly underserved schools throughout the Commonwealth through this program.
- 2001 Theatre IV assumed artistic and administrative management responsibilities for Barksdale Theatre, saving Central Virginia’s first professional performing arts organization (founded in 1953) from financial dissolution. This strategic partnership continues today, and Barksdale is now firmly established as Richmond’s leading professional theatre.
- 2009 Theatre IV, in partnership with Barksdale Theatre, continues to perform live before nearly 600,000 theatre lovers each year, presenting acclaimed home seasons in Richmond, and touring extensively throughout Virginia, 34 additional states plus the District of Columbia, on an annual budget of $5.3 million.
- 2012 Theatre IV merges with Barksdale Theatre to become Virginia Repertory Theatre.
- 1978 Theatre IV received the first Sara Spencer Award, presented by the Southeastern Theatre Association in recognition of “the most outstanding contribution to children’s theatre in the Southeastern United States.”
- 1985 Theatre IV produced Do Lord Remember Me based on the oral histories of former slaves interviewed during the Federal Writer’s Project and received the Award of Excellence from Branches of the Arts for “The most outstanding play relating to African-American experience.”
- 1988 Theatre IV received the Concern for Kids Award from the Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs, recognizing Theatre IV’s “outstanding service to Virginia’s children.”
- 1990 Managing Director Phil Whiteway received the Outstanding Young Citizen of the Year Award from the Richmond Jaycees for “outstanding contributions to the Richmond community.”
- 1991 Theatre IV received the Award of Distinguished Service from Handicaps Unlimited of Virginia, honoring “commitment to the principles of inclusion and service to Virginia’s disabled citizens.”
- 1993 Theatre IV received the Outstanding Service Award presented by the Central Richmond Association for “exemplary civic leadership in service to downtown Richmond.”
- 1993 Bruce Miller received the Commissioner’s Award from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented by Commissioner Donna Shalala, honoring his “outstanding national contribution to the field of child abuse and neglect.”
- 1996 Theatre IV received the Together for Children Award presented by Prevent Child Abuse Virginia for “exceptional contributions to the well being of Virginia’s children and families.”
- 1996 Theatre IV’s production of Buffalo Soldier, written and directed by Artistic Director Bruce Miller, was booked into the Kennedy Center. Subsequently it was voted one of the 12 Best American Plays for Young Audiences by the membership of ASSITEJ USA, the national organization of theatre professionals working in the TYA field.
- 1999 STYLE Weekly selected Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway as two of the 100 Most Influential Richmonders of the 20th Century.
- 2001 Bruce Miller became the first artist (and the second recipient) to be honored with the Leadership in Arts Instruction Award presented by the Virginia Board of Education and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
- 2003 During the final presentation of Richmond Times-Dispatch theatre critic Roy Proctor’s annual Phoebe Awards, Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway won their 20th Phoebe Award in 20 years for having produced Greater Richmond’s Best Play or Best Musical of the Year. No other producers even approached this level of critical recognition for artistic excellence.
- 2006 Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway received the Theresa Pollak Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts, becoming the first theatre practitioners to be so honored.
- 2007 Theatre IV won STYLE Weekly’s Family Favorite Award, Best Theatre for Families, for each of the six years that the award was offered.
- 2008 Theatre IV, Miller and Whiteway were presented with Virginia’s Governor’s Award for the Arts.
Honors and other recognitions
- 1975 One of Theatre IV's earliest productions, a dramatization of African-American folk tales, was selected to represent the United States at the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap Farm Park and recorded for international broadcast over Voice of America.
- 1988 The nation of Israel adopted Hugs and Kisses as a model program, and Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway visit Tel Aviv with Governor Gerald Baliles to meet with the Israel Department of Social Services and Israel’s leading professional touring theatre for young audiences.
- 1990 Theatre IV’s James Madison and the Bill of Rights is the only arts program in the nation to be selected for funding by the U. S. Bicentennial Commission for touring to schools throughout the United States.
- 1994 Jane Alexander, Oscar and Tony Award-winning actress and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, joined Theatre IV’s cast of The Wizard of Oz on stage at the historic Empire Theatre, in celebration of the 10-millionth child to be served by Theatre IV.
- 1995 Theatre IV was selected as the only theatre in the nation to be included in PART of the Solution – Creative Alternatives for Youth, a publication of the U. S. Dept. of Justice, the U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, showcasing the twelve most proactive youth arts programs in the nation.
- 1997 Working in partnership with Richmond Public Schools, Theatre IV was selected as the first producing theatre in the nation to become an affiliate of the Kennedy Center’s prestigious, national arts-in-education initiative, Partners in Education.
- 2002 The Pentagon selects Theatre IV’s production of Buffalo Soldier, written and directed by Bruce Miller, as a morale booster after September 11. Theatre IV becomes the first professional theatre in the nation to perform within the Pentagon walls. The performance receives a standing ovation from the packed auditorium, and is broadcast live throughout the Pentagon.
- 2006 Theatre IV’s The Jamestown Story was one of only two arts programs statewide to be selected for funding by the Jamestown 2007 Commemoration Commission for touring to Virginia’s schools.
- "Broad Street Commercial District National Register Nomination". Broad Street Commercial District. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 1986. p. 17 (Continuation sheet #13). Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- Rice, Ruth (November 27, 2006). "Holiday magic: Arcadia play tells tale of Christmas poem". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
- Riggan, Philip:  Richmond.com November 1, 2011; Empire Theatre gets $2 Million Gift Retrieved 2012-05-27
- "IMDb Most Popular Titles With Location Matching "Virginia Rep Center - 114 W. Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, USA"". www.imdb.com.
- Prestidge, Holly:  Richmond Times Dispatch May 20, 2012; Barksdale, Theatre IV merging Retrieved 2012-05-27
- Cushing, Nathan:  RVA News May 20, 2012; Barksdale and Theatre IV join to create Virginia Repertory Theatre Retrieved 2012-05-27