Drama at the Mill
Phillips' Mill brings community-driven theater to Bucks County, hosts workshops for youth and supports the aspirations of emerging playwrights.
It’s been a hundred years, maybe more, since Antons Chekhov’s “The Proposal” was performed at Phillips’ Mill. Early records indicate that it was the first play performed at the quaint location in Bucks County, Pa. It was the start of a long tradition of bringing live, community-driven theater to an emerging arts community. From original musical comedies to rousing cabarets, short plays to impromptu poetry readings, Phillips’ Mill Drama has presented a variety of quality entertainment and supported the aspirations of emerging writers, actors, musicians and other artists.
The Stage Was Set for a Long-Standing Tradition
In 1900, when Phillips’ Mill was no longer functioning as a grist mill, owner Dr. George Morley Marshall and his artist friends (The New Hope Impressionists) took down a few trees and built a stage. He wanted the communal intellectual and artistic traditions that had been fostered on the grounds of the Mill under his watch to continue.
Nearly three decades later—and with Dr Marshall's enthusiastic encouragement—the Mill was purchased by its community members. The first president of the Mill Community Association was his artist friend William Langson Lathrop, whose wife Annie was a talented promoter of theatrics. They staged many theatricals, a tradition that has continued since that time.
Theatrical Productions at Phillips’ Mill
Over the years, a number of well-known plays and dramas were staged at the Mill by such directors as Ann Melby Shenkle and Nandas Metcalfe Case. Yet, the main staple of the Mill’s products was amateur comedic musicals written by a succession of writers including Dorothy Slesinger (and right-hand person Eleanor Miller), Emily Leith-Ross, Mary Stetson, Jackie Clark, Bette Benedict, Lori Rosolowsky, Kevin Nalty and Valerie Eastburn. Many of the musicals were choreographed by Betty Benton. Talented musicians enhanced the production with live music.
Phillips’ Mill Drama Today
Phillips’ Mill Drama continues to bring wonderful, community-based productions of original musical comedies to the Mill, featuring live music and original works by area talent. In addition, the Drama Committee brings the following to Phillips’ Mill:
An annual juried Emerging Playwright Competition to encourage new work and bring it to the stage. Playwrights living within a 100-mile radius of the Mill are eligible to enter a short piece. Cash prizes are awarded. A public reading of the six chosen short plays, with talkbacks with the audience, is the highlight of the competition.
A Premiere Showcase is the nascent production of an original, fully developed, never-before-performed play produced on the Mill stage by an up-and-coming playwright. The play is chosen by members of the Drama Committee. Director and cast are chosen by the playwright.
A Playwriting Challenge for young writers called "Play with Words" is being launched in 2022. More details to follow.
Impromptu Salons of reading aloud poetry, plays or short stories, occur occasionally for all who would like to attend.
Love theater? Support Phillips’ Mill Drama
There are many ways to show your support for our wonderful community theater program. We welcome new members and volunteers who share our passion for the stage. If you are interested in joining our committee, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about joining the Phillips' Mill Community Association by clicking on the link below.
Please consider becoming a valued sponsor of our Emerging Playwright Competition (EPC). Every donation, however small, helps make it possible for us to continue to offer this meaningful program. We are deeply grateful for your support.
Click Here to Donate.