Celebrating 30 Years of Excellent Theatre

The New Hampshire Theatre Project in Portsmouth kicks off a special 30th anniversary season.

A scene from "Constellations" photo by Dan Derby

For 30 years, the New Hampshire Theatre Project has created its own definition of community theatre. On its stage you’ll find everything from serious, provocative plays that tackle the big issues of the day to youth productions and a program that helps professionals hone public speaking skills. It all serves the mission of community-building, education and, of course, entertainment through the art of theatre.

Created in 1984 by a group of professional performing artists, NHTP incorporated as an official nonprofit four years later in 1988. After a number of changes and moves over the intervening decades, today they have a permanent home at the 50-seat black box West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth. If you’ve never seen a play in a space like this, it’s an intimate, immediate experience that offers an entirely different perspective than a large theatre.

As a part of the 30th anniversary season, from Oct. 4-7, catch a one-weekend-only reprise of Nick Payne’s popular “Constellations,” a witty comedy and modern love story that explores different relationships that unfold in parallel universes. Later in the month comes guest artist Dixie Tymitz's a one-woman-show about New Hampshire icon Doris “Granny D” Haddock who, at age 89, walked across the entire country to raise awareness for campaign finance reform.

There’s more going on than just the mainstage performances. This special season will also include a variety of guest artists, youth productions, the 3rd Annual Storytelling Festival, a brand new Seacoast Sessions series featuring concerts and interviews with area musicians, and a second year of the Elephant-in-the-Room plays, a provocative series that tackles difficult, serious topics from the opioid crisis to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

“[NHTP] is an established organization in the field of participatory arts. It could arguably be one of the oldest in the country doing this kind of work,” says Genevieve Aichele, founding artistic director of the NHTP. “We know this work is critical, and that being ‘entertaining’ is not in opposition to ‘deep’ work. We can be both. We are both.”

Live performances are, of course, a large part of the NHTP, but building community and education are also important aspects of its mission to transform and inspire people through theatre. In addition to onsite workshops, the NHTP works in schools throughout New Hampshire through artist residencies. They offer youth education programs, summer and vacation camps, workshops and Masterclasses.

Then there’s the unique Theatre for Life program, which focuses on developing skills that are just as valuable outside the theater as they are on a stage — skills that extend to the workplace and beyond, such as public speaking, giving presentations, team building, communication, conflict resolution and more.

Visit nhtheatreproject.org to learn more about all that they offer. Here’s to the next 30 years of fun, learning and great theatre. 

Categories: Features