Performing Arts

Drama Program

Community theater enriches the lives of all involved

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Drama at the Mill

Phillips' Mill brings community-driven theater to Bucks County, hosts workshops for youth and supports the aspirations of emerging playwrights.

History

Drama and Theater at Phillips' Mill

It’s been a hundred years, maybe more, since Antons Chekov’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

Theatrical Productions & Cabaret Events at Phillips' Mill - New Hope, Pa

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 Premier 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.

  • An annual Drama Youth Workshop is presented every summer for children who have an interest in learning some basic rudiments of theatrical writing and performance.

  • 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 drama@phillipsmill.org.

Learn more about joining the Phillips' Mill Community Association by clicking on the link below.

Member Benefits

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.

Musical Comedies

Community theater is an example of a successful mini-civilization. It builds social capital by getting people involved and is made up of amateur actors who contribute their time, talent and efforts to the good of the group. As many as 50 or more creatives work together toward a common goal. They work to inspire audiences with their creativity, passion and collaboration by combining song, dance and dialogue to tell a story. Original works using live music are produced for our musical comedies. The audience, seated cabaret style, is supportive and part of the collaboration.

Premiere Showcase

It is only after a full-length play has been finely honed, had repeated readings before invited audiences and gone through numerous edits that it is truly ready for a staged production with props, lighting and sound, costumes, scenery and actors performing under a director. Of course, it also needs a stage on which to perform. Phillips’ Mill is willing to provide that venue. The Drama Committee chooses a play that fits the criteria and offers the playwright support. It is performed at the Mill for the very first time as a fully staged play, and the playwright is able to see how the audience reacts and what needs a final rewrite or adjustment. It is invaluable to the playwright and an exciting event for the audience to see a work performed for the very first time.

Youth Drama Programs

The skills children learn through participating in theater help them become more confident, hardworking and empathetic adults. Through theater, children learn to work as part of a team, to feel comfortable and confident speaking in a group situation, and how to connect with others. Involvement in theater enables an appreciation of the arts and stimulates imagination and creativity. And it's fun!

Emerging Playwright Competition

This juried annual competition of short plays encourages the development of original theatrical work. Cash prizes and the opportunity for public readings by actors on the Mill stage are awarded.

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Upcoming Drama Events

Check back here soon for details on future events.
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OUR COMMUNITY

The Phillips' Mill Community Association supports programming in the visual and performing arts, and hosts social and educational events. It is the broadest-ranging venue for artistic expression in Bucks County.

Sherri Andrews “Paths of Life”
Christopher Bosse “A Night at the Opera”

Youth Programs

Amanda Penecale “Cliffs in Autumn- Ottsville Pa”

Art Talk

Joe Gyurcsak “Opening Night”

Preservation

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