About Words Players Theatre
What do you read, my lord?
HamletWords, words, words.
One weekend. Two shows. A church basement.
Year 'round. Six productions. Parks, theatres, barns, farmers' markets, community art events.
Little did anyone know in 2004 when The Sign on Rosie's Door and a modern retelling of Aristophanes' The Birds were produced on the whim of a handful of homeschooled students in southeast Minnesota that Words Players Theatre would be launched. For that two-part production, $200 was collected to pay a church for use of their basement.
Since 2004, Words Players has offered an annual production that gave a younger crowd—ages 10 - 14—a chance to be on-stage in significant roles, as well as a production for a high school-aged cast. Springing from our emphasis on literature came the annual Original One Act Play Festival—plays written, directed, and acted by students—and the annual Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival.
Faced with a decision in 2007 to move forward or retreat, a newly formed steering committee decided on the former, and in 2009 we obtained non-profit status.
In 2010 Words Players Theatre performed its first Shakespeare in the Park event as part of a community summer festival. With the Shakespeare production, we now offer six distinctly different theatre experiences each year: a Junior and Senior Troupe musical; the Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival; Shakespeare in the Park; the Original One Act Play Festival; and a Christmas show. In addition, year 'round acting and literature classes are offered.
First and foremost a youth theatre organization, we rely on and encourage youth involvement in every facet of our operations. In theatre productions, students are involved in and consistently responsible for set design and construction; props and costumes; stage managing; sound and lighting design.
Students are involved in all of our planning and oversight decisions also, from the Words Players steering committee to play selection and education decisions. As a community theatre, youth, students and adults from a wide variety of backgrounds are involved with our work.
Theatre productions provide unique opportunities for people with unique talents and areas of expertise to come together on a project and work together toward a common goal. In a given year we have between 300 - 500 volunteers involved in our productions – on stage and off. Entire families join us during the intense 6-8 week production cycle – painting, hammering, drilling, sewing.
Attention to community participation is a focus and priority. Farmers' Markets, arts events, charity benefits – all provide our actors with performance opportunities and outstanding ways to connect with and be a vital part of our community. We actively pursue these opportunities and are frequently asked to take part in events.
Partnerships with other arts organizations are also a priority. In the past three years we have worked with Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota, the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro and the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona for participation and performance opportunities.