Community Theatres have been operating in Canada for almost as long as Canada has been a country. The Theatre Arts Guild on the Purcell's Cove road is the longest operating community theatre in Canada. In fact, three of the large communities in HRM, Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth, all have working and well-attended theatres.
Here in Dartmouth, Dartmouth Players Theatre has called 33 Creighton Ave. home for the last 26 years.
Although the organization in its current form has existed for 25 years, the roots of the community theatre group go as far back as 1957. Community theatre in Dartmouth got its beginnings through the Dartmouth Parks and Recreation Department when it obtained permission to use and equip the Prince Arthur Junior High School Auditorium as a community theatre. Around 1958, the Dartmouth Drama Club was formed after a meeting at Southdale School. During the 1961/62 season, the Group hosted two festivals: the Provincial One-Act Play Festival and the Regional Dominion Drama Festival.
Over the next several years, directors such as Rosa Atkinson, John Poulton, Arthur Ware, Robert Vandekieft, Cliff Tyner, and Flo Trillo directed plays in both Prince Arthur and Prince Andrew High School auditoriums. The Group took part in many of the Nova Scotia Drama League's festivals such as in Truro (1970), and the Dominion Drama Festival (1971 and 1973). The group changed its name to "Dartmouth Players" in about 1971 and in early 1974 moved to the converted Dundas Cinema in Dartmouth. In the spring of 1974, Dark of the Moon, directed by Flo Trillo, was the only play produced in the Dundas Street Theatre as it burned down later that year. Since they had lost everything in the fire, the Players were unable to continue and disbanded.
A New Beginning
Cliff Tyner and Arthur Ware were approached by Dartmouth City Council in 1985, following a Dartmouth-based production presented in the Dunn Theatre in Halifax and witnessed by then Mayor of Dartmouth, John Savage. Dr. Savage recognized the need for community theatre, and Tyner and Ware were given the use of a small room in Findlay Community Centre, where the inaugural meeting of the newly revived Dartmouth Players took place in January 1986. Plays were staged at the Dartmouth High School, Prince Andrew High School auditoriums, and the Findlay Centre until the Crichton Avenue Community Centre opened in the fall of 1987. The Centre became the settled home of the group, and over the next twenty-plus years, Dartmouth Players has produced well over sixty plays and hosted many visiting theatre groups. Our audience has grown continually during that time to reach well over five thousand people a season. We hope to see you at the theatre, and enjoy the show!