The Barnstormers, located in the bucolic village of Tamworth, NH, is one of the longest-running professional summer theatres in the country. The company was founded in 1931 by Francis Cleveland, the youngest son of President Grover Cleveland, Francis’s wife Alice and their friend Ed Goodnow – all of whom were involved with theatre on Broadway. Over eighty years later, their legacy continues. Today, The Barnstormers is one of three Equity theatres in New Hampshire and is the only theatre in the world that maintains the summer theatre tradition of eight plays in eight weeks.
Eight Plays in Eight Weeks
Over 40 professional actors from around the country join an experienced core company (some of whom have performed on The Barnstormers stage for over 50 years) for what has been described as “extreme theatre.” The majority are members of the Actors’ Equity union, many have worked together for years, and the younger ones enjoy a rigorous theatre training experience in a highly supportive setting. Out-of-town actors arrive on Sunday, are housed throughout the community, and begin rehearsals on Monday in a borrowed barn. Eight days later, the curtain rises on the new show. To say this schedule is challenging is an understatement as most theatre productions have the luxury of weeks of rehearsals.
Directors, designers, stage managers and theatre technicians come together for an intense season of nonstop creative action. Our audience is filled with year-round and summer residents along with visitors, who come to enjoy great professional theatre in a historic New Hampshire setting.
The Theatre in Tamworth, New Hampshire
Tamworth is a small village surrounded by pastures and the dramatic backdrop of the White Mountains. After years of traveling to various towns in New Hampshire and Maine, in 1935 The Barnstormers bought and converted a Tamworth Main Street store to a theatre. This building remains The Barnstormers’ home but has been updated to include a 28-foot proscenium stage, 282 comfortable seats, air-conditioning, and superb acoustics. The theatre is handicapped accessible and has a hearing-assistance loop with headsets available. The façade remains mostly unchanged.
During the off-season, the facility is available to rent for concerts, drama and dance performances, talks and community events. The theatre is also offered to the many local performing arts groups free-of-charge.
During July and August, Tuesdays through Saturdays, the plays feature the gems of American and British theatre. “Ghost Train” and “Our Town” are the two most frequently produced shows in The Barnstormers history. Each summer a musical, an Agatha Christie or similar suspense/mystery, as well as a modern drama are included in the summer line-up. But humor prevails as our audience loves to laugh.
While the plays change each season, The Barnstormers’ commitment to provide its audience with great professional theatre remains as strong as at its opening in 1931.