HISTORY & MISSION
Circle Players began in 1949, when an ambitious group of volunteer actors, directors, producers, designers, and stage hands founded the company on a stock-ownership basis. The first few years of production were spent in various locations in Nashville, among them the Hermitage Hotel, the downtown YMCA, and perhaps most interestingly, in an old gambling den at Second and Broadway.
The leadership decided Circle Players would best operate as a state-charted 501-c-3, non-profit arts organization in the mid-1950’s. This completely volunteer-staffed organization, which includes Artist Members and the Board of Directors, operated for 26 years in the basement of what is now the Blue Bird Café on Hillsboro Road.
In 1980, Circle Players became the first resident company in the brand new Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and presented productions in TPAC’s Johnson Theatre through 2004, when TPAC selected the Tennessee Reperatory Theater as its only resident company at TPAC.
From 2004, Circle Players continued to provide quality productions despite having to navigate among a variety of local performance venues, including Z. Alexander Looby Theater, Larry Keeton Theater, David Lipscomb University, Tennessee State University and others. In 2017-2018, Circle Players was invited to return to Looby Theater as a resident company and perform its mainstage productions at the venue.
Circle Players is proud of its distinction as not only one of the Tennessee’s oldest community theatre companies, but Nashville’s oldest non-profit volunteer arts organization. Circle volunteers (Artist Members) have been, and continue to be, the backbone of the operation of the theatre. Volunteers give time and resources to work onstage, backstage, as ushers and house managers, or as members of committees which provide support in play selection, marketing, or fundraising. Among the more than 500 artist members are professionals across many industries and profession.
For 72 years, the company has produced more than 500 musicals, comedies, mysteries, historical dramas and classics, as well as cutting-edge social dramas and recent Broadway hits. Well into its seventh decade of providing an artistic and creative forum for all Nashvillians, Circle Players remains a true community-based success, focusing on arts participation and arts access opportunities for all citizens of our community.
Circle Players’ aim is to promote public education appreciation and enjoyment of dramatic literature, stagecraft, fine arts and the theatre through the production of plays and by conducting other related activities.
The history of Circle Players (including scrapbooks, photos and newspaper clippings) is on display in the Nashville Public Library Special Collections section. Click here for more information.
“Circle Players is a very special community theatre, a wonderful company. There’s always such a talented mix of artists who live in the community, who work and spend their days in paying jobs often unrelated to theatre, then perform with Circle because of their passion and love for the organization.”
“Father Fame” creator of FAME
“I came full circle to Circle Players! It’s amazing to know that part of my theatre experience circled back here to what I do now—bringing [my show, Band Geeks!] back to my home town, to an organization that I have great respect for and that I have a history with.”
Nashville native and former Circle Players Artist Member.
“What’s great about community theatre, you have people who have entirely different lives—we have jobs, we have other responsibilities. But our passion for what we do is so strong… and that is what is so encouraging. The gratification that we get is in the story and the character. It’s not even in the applause or in the great standing ovation at the end.”
Director and Actor
“As a native of New York City, with years of attending Broadway with Mary Martin, etc., I am delighted with the level of talent I am able to experience at Circle. It's a gift to me. So many are giving the 'life force’ of God-given talent to enrich my life and others. I am so grateful.”