Although The Players Centre is a non-professional community theatre, being located on the “Cultural Coast” gives us an incredible talent pool to work with. From our Artistic Director to our stage hands, literally half of the volunteers working on a production have at one time been professionally paid performers. Many professional performers retire and are drawn to the area thanks to all of Sarasota’s arts offerings. These professionals bring their experience, training, families and often extensive resumes with them to our stage.
When we scatter professionals in amongst the nonprofessional actors and students, everyone wins! The productions are stronger, the newer actors receive excellent training, and everyone learns from the examples set by these talented and trained volunteers. The Players also hires many professionally trained Directors, Choreographers, and Musical Directors as well.
When the idea of Community Theatre began, Sarasota was a small town with a population of 8,000 which grew by 5,000 visitors in the winter months. Fanneal Harrison and Catherine Gavin, owners of the Out-Of-Door School, were looking for activities which would interest its faculty. Finding that theatre was at the top of the list, they gathered a group of friends to discuss the possibility of starting one.
In 1929 the new theatre became a reality and The Players moved into a real theatre of its own at the corner of north Tamiami Trail and 9th Street. Built of pecky cypress, it had 246 seats, a lobby with a welcoming fireplace, a large, deep stage and complete lighting system. They began with 256 members who contributed just $2 each for subscriptions.
In the early 70’s the current building went up in its place, with a seating capacity of almost 500. In 2000 the building got new stage and auditorium lighting, updated air-conditioning, sound and acoustical upgrades, new curtains, flooring, new roof, exterior doors, a refurbished rail system, exterior and interior painting, and new landscaping.