Phoenix Theatre, originally founded as the Phoenix Players in 1920, is the oldest arts organization in Arizona and remains one of the oldest operating arts organizations in the country. Although the Phoenix Players performed in a variety of spaces including schools and backyards, there was an inevitable need for a permanent dedicated theatre space. In 1924 the Heard Family offered the newly named, Phoenix Little Theatre their old coach house on Central and McDowell.
In 1952, Board President Stephen Shadegg along with the Heard Family and Barry Goldwater fought for and won funding for the construction of a new building. This building was at the core of a developing arts and cultural area that would later welcome the Phoenix Art Museum as well as the Phoenix Library.
Phoenix Theatre, renamed in 1981, has since embarked on several renovations to the current space and has made several additions to programming, many of which still operate today. Phoenix Theatre continues to grow and remain at the heart of artistic growth in the community. In 2006, Phoenix Theatre developed a plan to address the shortage of space and accommodate the growing needs of our programs.
On October 26, 2013, Phoenix Theatre revealed one of the most significant expansions of a performing arts facility in the southwest – one that will have a tremendous impact on arts and culture in this region. The addition includes a soaring glass atrium lobby, additional rehearsal and entertainment spaces, and a new state-of-the-art black box theatre. This new facility will forever change the face of Phoenix Theatre and significantly enhance our ability to realize the Theatre’s creative vision, expand programming and services to meet increasing demand, and deliver a quality patron experience.
Through the course of its history, Phoenix Theatre has launched stars in the industry, developed young audiences, introduced emerging playwrights and composers, created a space for alternative and experimental theatre, and hosted world premieres. Most importantly, it remains at the center of an active arts complex serving its audiences by creating dynamic, professional productions while following its mission of educating and elevating the growing Phoenix artistic and cultural community.