The Colonial Theatre, a non-profit educational institution incorporated in the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, began in April of 1985 with the renovation of two buildings (built in 1844) now on The National Landmark Registry.
The first production opened on June 18, 1985. At the theatre’s inception, programming involved theatrical performance from February through December, educational programs, along with training and internship programs. Outreach was also initiated with a touring production of scenes from Shakespeare that played in schools and social centers in addition to the theatre. Programming continued to grow, with the addition of reading series for new works, and the development and production of several new works.
In 1991, The Colonial added a free, outdoor Shakespeare Festival, which draws about 15,000 people each year, and which has several times produced a British company’s work in addition to our own offerings. The Colonial Theatre Shakespeare Festival now enters the 20th season as the official Shakespeare Festival of The State of Rhode Island.
In the summer of 2000, the Shakespeare Festival also took up a four-year residence in Connecticut at The University of Connecticut Avery Point Campus in Groton. The following year our Shakespeare-To-Go program was initiated, serving over 15,000 students in its inaugural year.
The Colonial Theatre is committed to producing professional theatre of the highest quality, to providing an outdoor Shakespeare Festival, and to establishing a series of educational programs and training opportunities for both children and adults designed to enhance both knowledge and appreciation of theatre arts.
The Theatre holds an equally strong commitment to our community: that productions overall be both broadly appealing and challenging; that ticket prices be affordable, that local service organizations and other non-profits receive our support for their endeavors, and that The Colonial’s offerings be a source of inspiration and education as well as entertainment.
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