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History of The Drama Workshop

The Drama Workshop traces its beginnings to 1951 when a handful of local residents, interested in the excitement of experimental theatre, expressed their desire to see recent Off-Broadway plays produced in Des Moines. Among these local residents were Archie Leonard, Lee Brown, and John Tam. In February 1952, this team introduced arena theatre to Des Moines-area audiences with productions of "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre and "A Moment in Hell" by Don Marquis. The plays were enthusiastically received both backstage and in the audience. The interest created by these first plays indicated there was good reason to plan further productions on a more permanent basis...and the Drama Workshop was born.

Because many of its founding members were Unitarians, the Workshop's early plays were produced in the basement of the old First Unitarian Church located at 11th and High Streets in downtown Des Moines. The Workshop performed there from 1952-1955 with a one-year stint at the Long House on Kingman Boulevard. In 1957, the Workshop moved once again to the newly-built First Unitarian Church located at Bell Avenue and Casady Drive. In 1980, the Workshop established its home in the Stoner Studio Theatre located at 221 Walnut Street in the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. In early 2002, the Workshop forged an alliance with Grand View College and the school's Viking Theatre where three Workshop productions will be performed during our 2002-2003 season.

Reaching our half-century mark, the Drama Workshop is still providing local audiences with the quality and unique theatre experiences it first set out to present. We invite you to share with us your thoughts and comments about season and our productions. We look forward to seeing you in the audience soon.