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Not So Little Things Happening at Pensacola's Little Theatre

By Christian Burney

The Pensacola Little Theatre is a gem to the West Floridian community. It was founded nearly 80 years ago by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which created theatre companies across the country as part of a federal program for the Great depression. At its founding, the organization was called the Civic Drama Players and did not adopt the Pensacola Little Theatre title until a year later.

"Since their founding in 1936, they have performed at many locations throughout Pensacola," says Lenae Voellmecke, Public Relations and Marketing Specialist for PLT. "Early performances were held in the old Chamber of Commerce auditorium, and then eventually moving to Pensacola High School."

In 1977, PLT had to abandon its hold on Quonset, where they'd performed for around 30 years. At that time, other arts organizations were having similar troubles; PLT performed a commissioned study that determined 24 other local organizations needed the same space and facilities. PLT reported its findings to the Escambia County Commissioners, who granted the group the deed to the Court of Records Building and Jail.

This was revolutionary not just for the Pensacola Little Theatre, but the Pensacola arts community as a whole. PLT's new facility allowed them to rent space to other artists and people. To this day, PLT rents auditorium space to fundraising events, concerts and live performances. "Our mission is to provide entertainment as well as opportunity to the community," says Kathy Holsworth, Artistic Director.

In addition to sharing its space, PLT likes to produce entertainment for people from all backgrounds. The theatre runs 4 series, each catered to a particular audience. They host a series of Mainstage Performances, which have your typical musicals, dramas, or comedies. The Treehouse series produces family-friendly shows, the Acorn series is for young children, and Studio 400 provides much bolder plays that are not recommended for family audiences.

Aspiring performers are more than welcomed at Pensacola Little Theatre. "Our education classes are fantastic!" exclaims Voellmecke. "They are led by a team of experienced actresses and really touch on all aspects of theatre."

The performance courses focus on a variety of theater subjects and help students develop confidence and collaboration skills. Students explore the performance art by rehearsing audition techniques, studying musicals and improvisation, and analyzing real life scenes. "They often are completely booked," Voellmecke warns. "It's important that you sign up early to ensure your spot. There are classes for all ages and they range from 4 to adult."

Pensacola Little Theatre rose to find a place for arts in the community. They managed to not only secure themselves, but other local artists and organizations. It seems the federal recovery program that debuted PLT nearly 80 years ago worked. And today, PLT continues to support its community through entertainment, education and opportunity.

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About The Author

Christian Burney will soon graduate with a BFA in writing from the Savannah College of...

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