Theatre Project’s History
The Early Years
Theatre Project was founded by Philip Arnoult in 1971. The early years hosted presentations of artists such as Pilobolus Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women and Bread and Puppet Theatre, as well as community outreach programs such as the Baltimore Neighborhood Arts Circus and Baltimore Voices. Known as “Baltimore’s Free Theatre,” no tickets were sold; after performances a hat was passed for audience members to donate to the artists and theatre.
A Force in International Theatre
Arnoult established Theatre Project and Baltimore as a factor on the international theater scene, and increasingly Theatre Project became known for a dynamic mix of experimental national and international presentations. Theatre Project was a co-producer of The New Theatre (TNT) Festivals at University of Maryland Baltimore County and in downtown Baltimore (1976-1979). The theater was crucial to the selection of Baltimore as the 1986 site of the prestigious International Theatre Institute’s biennial Theatre of Nations Festival, the festival’s only North American location.
In 1983-84, Theatre Project underwent an extensive restructuring that included the renovation of its historic 45 West Preston Street home. The resulting space, a dynamic example of creative adaptation, is an exemplary blackbox facility with a sprung wood floor measuring 33’x35′, backed by the original 20′ acoustic dome. There are 150 seats, all with unobstructed views. In 1994, Theatre Project again modernized its facility with the addition of chair lifts providing ADA accessibility.
The Recent Years
In 1992, Theatre Project came under the direction of Robert Mrozek. During his tenure, artists like Karen Finley; Danny Hoch; Holly Hughes; James Magruder; da da kamera’s Daniel McIvor; Squonk Opera; and David Drake (The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me) developed and/or premiered work at Theatre Project. In the fall of 2001, Anne Cantler Fulwiler, a board member and former employee, became the theatre’s director. Under her direction, Theatre Project has continued its reputation for outstanding artistic quality, increased community outreach, and improved its financial stability. Theatre Project celebrated its 40th Anniversary during the 2011-2012 season with a new membership program and a “pass the hat” performance of each show in honor of Theatre Project’s history.
In July 2012, Chris Pfingsten became Producing Director, continuing the great work done by his predecessors.