Mission & History

Mission:

Davidson Community Players is a non-profit organization established to produce theatre that entertains, enriches, and encourages community participation in the dramatic arts. The Connie Company is DCP’s theatre for youth division. Both organizations have a long standing record of providing creative, authentic and affordable opportunities for both children and adults.

History:

Davidson Community Players was founded by Constance Welsh, a drama teacher, director, and actress. The Players’ first production was in July 1965 and Connie gathered a group of college and town residents interested in theater to produce an original play, “Time of Harvest”, written by Connie’s husband, Wilmer Welsh. Connie, a theatre arts major form Carnegie Mellon, led the young organization as it produced one or two plays every summer, primarily in Hodson Hall on the Davidson College campus.

During the years 1965 to 1980, the Players were loosely organized and Connie directed the majority of productions. Among the shows produced during this period were “The Bald Soprano” by Eugene Ionesco, “You Can’t Take it With You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, “Our Town” by Thorton Wilder, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, “Major Barbara,” by George Bernard Shaw, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee, and “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov

In the early 80’s, Connie moved to Charlotte. To survive the gap left by her departure, the Players hired their first executive director, Pam Stephenson, and organized an executive board under chair Max Polley. Connie returned to direct “A Thousand Clowns” in 1981, and her final production with the Players the year before her death, “The Rainmaker” in 1990.

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During the period from 1982-89, seventeen plays were produced and a number of significant developments occurred. The Players applied for and received non-profit status, performances were increased to two weekends for each production, Fireside Readings were established, and in 1985 the first children’s play in collaboration with Davidson College’s Theater department was produced. The Players began to pay for the services of set designers, stage directors and technical coordinators as well as the executive director.

Kim Beard served as Executive Director for ten years (1989-99). During her tenure twenty-three plays were produced, including the Players’ first musical in 1991, “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson. In 1996 a children’s theater company, The Connie Company, was formed under the direction of Rupert Barber. The Players also continued to work with the Davidson College Theater department to produce a children’s play every year.

From 2000 to 2002 Karen Sorenson served as executive director. During her term in office the Players presented its first production in the Duke Family Performance Hall, “The Sound of Music,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, breaking all attendance records. From 2003 until 2009, the Players were guided by Cindy Rice as its first full-time executive director. She led significant growth of DCP including the acquisition of a theatre, the Armour Street Theatre, to bolster DCP’s education programs and productions.

Matthew Merrell, a former board member and chair, was hired in 2011 as the executive director. He has led DCP into receiving greater corporate support, created the position of Education Coordinator and maintained the high quality of performances.

The Players now produce a five play-season, which includes a March production, two summer shows produced at a 600 seat venue on the campus of Davidson College, an October production for adults, and a holiday show. DCP also offers three full children’s productions, two teen summer stock productions, and many youth classes and workshops for theater arts education and performance opportunities.