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Regional theaters, or resident theaters, in the United Statesmarker are professional or semi-professional, non-profit theater companies that produce their own seasons. The term regional theatre most often refers to professional theatres outside of New York City. The term does apply to non-profit, professional theatres on Broadway such as Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Clubmarker, and Lincoln Centermarker, as well as Off-Broadway and Off-off-Broadway.

Regional theaters often produce new plays and recent revivals from Broadwaymarker, Off-Broadway, and London's West Endmarker. Companies often round out their seasons with selections from classic dramas, popular comedies, and musicals.

Many resident theatres operate at least two stage: a main stage for shows requiring larger sets or cast, and one or more other stages (often studio theaters or black box theaters) for smaller, more experimental or avante-garde productions. In addition to box-office revenue, regional theatres rely on donations from patrons and businesses, season ticket subscriptions, and grants. Some have criticized regional theatres for being conservative in their selection of shows to accommodate the demographics of their subscribers and donors. However, it should be noted that LORT theatres represent some of the only not-for-profit theatres in the country paying living wages to artists. Due to audience feedback, artistic staff, and a theater's history, each theater may develop its own reputation both in its city and nationally.

Some regional theatres commit to developing new works and premiering new plays. Theatres that develop new work, like La Jolla Playhousemarker and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, often work to move their productions to Broadway venues in New York. They also educate young audiences through educational outreach programs that teach the basics of the dramatic arts. Cooperative programs with nearby university theatre programs are also common at regional theatres. For example, the Asolo Repertory Theatre is a member of LORT and partners with Florida State Universitymarker in operating the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

The two major organizations that help to maintain the general welfare of resident theatre in the United States are the League of Resident Theatres(LORT) and the Theatre Communications Group(TCG). These organizations encourage communication and good relations between their members and in the community, as well as promoting a larger public interest and support of regional theatre.

There are currently 74 LORT theatres located in every major U.S. market, including 29 states and the District of Columbia. LORT acts on behalf of its members in matters pertaining, but not limited to; collective bargaining with unions such as Actors’ Equity Association, United Scenic Artists, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, representation before government agencies on problems of labor relations, and the handling of disputes between members and their employees or union representatives. League of Resident Theatres,

Similar in purpose is the Theatre Communications Group. TCG’s mission is to “increase the organizational efficiency of our member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of and appreciation for the theatre.” TCG’s constituency has grown to encompass more than 460 members throughout the United States. Members benefit from opportunities to receive grants, attend various workshops and conferences, and gain insight into the not-for-profit industry through research. TCG also publishes the American Theatre Magazine, the ARTSEARCH online employment bulletin, and dramatic literature. Theatre Communications Group,

In recognition of the importance of regional theatres in America, the American Theatre Wing gives a Regional Theatre Tony Award to one regional theatre each year during the Tony Awards.

The Little Theatre Movement

In the second and third decades of the twentieth century, there was a push to get away from the conservative, mainstream ideology of Broadway. This movement, known as the Little Theatre Movement or the Regional Theatre Movement, was started by theatre artists who were concerned that not enough emphasis was being put on the expression of individualism and social issues through the dramatic arts. The belief that theatre should be about artistry and not about commerce drove this movement out of New York City and into the regions. The decentralization of theatre from New York City was a success and almost every major city now has a LORT member theatre. The movement altered the face of the American stage and allowed room for new works and new audiences. Gussow, Mel. "Regional Theater Prospering." The New York Times 01 Sept. 1987. />

Controversy in Regional Theatre

There is much concern that regional theatre in the United States is becoming the same as the New York marketplace that many of its proponents set out to get away from. Since the Regional Theatre Movement, there have been questions of how far these theatres will go to stay in business. As non-profits, they rely heavily on donations from patrons. Some theatres have been accused of "pandering to the audience", meaning they have subordinated artistic purpose to please their audiences and receive donations. Dower, David. "Putting the Regional in Regional Theatre." Arena Stage: New Play Blog. 11 April 2009. />

Quotations About Regional Theatre

Celisa Kalke, as quoted in American Theatre Magazine, April 2009

Andre Gregory, as quoted in Tulane Drama Review, 1965

Andre Gregory, as quoted in American Theatre Magazine, March 2005

–Ben Cameron, as quoted in American Theatre Magazine, March 2006

August Wilson, The Ground on Which I Stand


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