Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Regional theatres (also called resident theatres) in the United States are professional theatre companies outside of New York City that produce their own seasons. The term regional theatre is most often used to refer to members of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). LORT theatres are non-profit organizations and agree to use special contracts made in agreement with the Actors' Equity Association, the professional organization and labor union for actors working in the United States.
There are more than 70 LORT theatres located in cities throughout the United States. Regional theatres often produce new plays and recent revivals from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London's West End. Seasons are often rounded out with selections from classic dramas, popular comedies, and musicals. While most LORT theatres focus on producing "straight plays", it is not uncommon for a regional theatre's season to include one or two musicals.
Many resident theatres operate two stages: a main stage for shows requiring larger sets or cast, and a second stage (often a studio theatre or black box theater) for more experimental or avante-garde productions. Regional theatres rely on donations from patrons and businesses, season ticket subscriptions, and grants from organizations, in addition to ticket sales. Some have criticized regional theatres for being conservative in their selection of shows as theatre staff must consider the demographics of their subscribers and donors. Due to audience feedback, artistic staff, and a theatre's history, each theatre may develop its own reputation both in its city and nationally.
Some regional theatres make a commitment to developing new works and premiering new plays. Theatres that develop new work, like La Jolla Playhouse and Manhattan Theatre Club, often work to move their productions to professional venues in New York. Educational outreach programs and cooperative programs with nearby university theatre programs are also common programs found at regional theatres.
In recogniztion of the importance of regional theatres in America, the American Theatre Wing gives a Regional Theatre Tony Award to one regional theatre each year during the Tony Awards.
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