Players’ Workshop is one of the oldest community theater organizations in Iowa.
Players Workshop traces its history to the formation of the Burlington’s Drama League 1922 by a group of women. In 1927, the ladies were given the use of the rear carriage house of the late Col. H. B. Scott which became known for years as “The Little Theatre on Grove Street”.
Around 1932, men were admitted into the organization and the name Players Workshop was adopted. The group began a gradual withdrawal from the sponsorship of the Women’s Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce and became an entity on its own.
Money was in short supply so rather than paying royalties, several members of the fledgling group wrote the plays. In addition to live performances, they did radio plays at the Carthage, Iowa City, Des Moines, Quincy, and St. Louis stations. They became quite successful and won contests in Iowa City. The group also ventured into filmmaking with their cops and robbers movie Runnin’ Wild.
In 1936, Players Workshop had a major milestone in their history with the production of Tommy, its first full-length play. Since then, the group has produced an average of four shows per season. The shortage of men during World War II closed down the theatre for a time, but it was revived as soon as the war was over.
In the early 1960’s, the carriage house became unsafe and was razed. A new playhouse was constructed but during the building of the theatre, the Workshop continued to present plays in St. John auditorium. Since that time, many improvements have been made to the stage, the parking area, lighting, an orchestra pit added, and seats replaced twice. Space has been added to the dressing area, costume storage and the lobby.