Olney Theatre Center
|Purpose||20th-century American Classics|
Located just north of Washington, D.C. in Montgomery County, Maryland, the Olney Theatre Center offers a diverse array of professional productions year-round that enrich, nurture and challenge a broad range of artists, audiences and students. One of two state theaters of Maryland, OTC is situated on 14 acres (57,000 m2) in the heart of the Washington-Baltimore-Frederick "triangle." Its main stage seats 429 patrons, with a small theatre lab added in 1999.
As of May 2016, Olney Theatre Center has won 18 Helen Hayes Awards since the award's founding in 1985, and received 146 nominations.[needs update] It one of only two theaters in the country to operate under an Actors' Equity Association Council of Stock Theaters (COST) contract.
1938 Olney Theatre is founded by Steve Cochran on the site of a former roller skating rink (in what was then rural Montgomery County).
1940 C. Y. Stephens, an owner of High's Dairy Stores, purchases property and remodels to become better suited for theater.
1942 Under C. Y. Stephen’s ownership and Steve Cochran’s management, Olney Theatre opens for business. It closes two days later due to gasoline rationing.
1946 Olney Theater reopens under the joint management of Glenn Taylor, Redge Allen, and Evelyn Freyman. It presented summer theater where shows featured well-known stars such as Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Tallulah Bankhead, and Helen Hayes. The theater was a five-show summer stock theater on the straw-hat circuit, along with 238 other theaters around the country.
1949 Players, Inc. (now known as National Players, OTC's touring company), is created by Father Gilbert V. Hartke to bring live theater and educational programming to students and public audiences across the United States and overseas.
1952 C.Y. Stephens invites Father Hartke to come to Olney for a meeting where he is asked to take over the theater. The two negotiate and Father Hartke takes over management of the property under his nonprofit touring company’s umbrella. Stephens agrees not to charge Players, Inc. rent, and to reimburse them up to a $10,000 loss. Father Hartke then moved Players, Inc. to Olney to establish a summer theater.
1956 After losses in 1953 and 1954 (which Stephens underwrote), the decision is made to produce only five plays. In 1955, despite much critical success, Olney still sustains a loss of $3,495.61. Consequently, Father Hartke asks William H. Graham, Sr. to serve as Olney’s General Manager. His work, combined with the directorial talents of Robert Moore, Leo Brady, and Jim Waring draws large audiences, favorable reviews, and a profit of nearly $7,000 in 1956.
1960 After the production of Roshomon (directed by Robert Moore), Stephens tells Father Hartke that he will give him the theater. Little by little, Stephens transfers all of the property’s stock to Players, a branch of which is now known as Olney Theatre Corporation. Father becomes the corporation’s president, a position he held for 33 years.
1978 Olney Theatre is recognized as the official State Summer Theater of Maryland.
1986 Father Hartke passes away. Maryland State Arts Council designated Olney a "major arts organization", making it the only arts institution outside of Baltimore to hold such status at the time. The theater produces five, three-week productions per season, primarily from May to September.
1991 Olney Theatre begins a capital campaign to match a $625,000 state grant. The money was to be used for much needed improvements to the facilities and to realize Father Hartke’s goal of operating year-round.
1993 Olney adds two shows to its season, now beginning production in April and ending around late October. A scene shop and a costume shop are added to the mainstage building. (Prior sets were built outside, and costumes were built on the Crawford House Porch.)
1994 Jim Petosa is appointed Artistic director of the newly renamed Olney Theatre Center. He renews emphasis on 20th-century American classics, musical theater, new works, and area premieres.
1998-1999 Olney Theatre Center celebrates the 50th consecutive touring year of National Players. During these 50 years, National Players reached 2,400,000 audience members, traveled 1,760,000 miles (including 10 overseas tours and five White House receptions) and gave over 6,000 performances. Olney Theatre Center is now a year-round theater with a seven-show mainstage season.
1999 The Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab is built as the first step towards a new master campus plan.
2000 Olney Theatre Center begins a capital campaign for a $10.5 million expansion.
2003 The Kresge Foundation awards Olney Theatre Center a Special Opportunities Initiative grant totaling $1 million.
2004 Olney Theatre Center acquires an additional 5 acres (20,000 m2) for its cultural campus.
2005 Olney Theatre Center opens its new amphitheater, the Root Family Stage at Will’s Place, finally giving a permanent home to its Summer Shakespeare Festival. Olney Theatre Center holds the Grand Opening of its New Mainstage theater, a 429-seat facility with stadium seating and advanced technical capabilities.
2006 Olney Theatre Center expands its mainstage season to eight plays and introduces its New Play Initiative with the world premiere of In the Mood. Olney Theatre Center holds its first Gala Celebration in over 20 years.
2007 Olney Theatre Center adds a family entertainment series and reinforces its education initiative with the formation of Olney Theatre Institute.
2011 Jim Petosa, Artistic Director, announces that he will step down in 2012, after 19 years with Olney Theatre.
2013 Jason Loewith is announced as the new Artistic Director.
In 2016 the theatre had a long-term debt of US$4.8 million, down from US$6 million in 2013. The operating budget for the 2016 season was a little less than US$6 million.
- Pietro, Mary Jo Santo; Gilbert V. Hartke (2002). Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy to the American Theater. Catholic University of America Press.
- Pressley, Nelson (February 12, 2016). "Olney swings for the fences with Moisés Kaufman's jazzy 'Carmen'". The Washington Post.
- "HHA Nominees & Recipients". theatreWashington. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
- Treanor, Tim (3 November 2011). "Olney Theatre Center to say goodbye to Jim Petosa". DC Theatre Scene. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- Lehman, Daniel (12 June 2012). "Martin Platt Announced as New Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- Jones, Kenneth (11 December 2012). "Artistic Director Martin Platt Parts Ways With Olney Theatre Center; Search for Successor Begins - See more at: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/artistic-director-martin-platt-parts-ways-with-olney-theatre-center-search--200611#sthash.HT3DrCmL.dpuf". Retrieved 4 February 2016. External link in
- Marks, Peter (7 February 2013). "Olney finds next leader in Jason Loewith". Retrieved 4 February 2016.