In 1736, the Dock Street Theatre in Charles-Towne, South Carolina was the first building in America created solely for theatrical purposes. Nobody knows exactly what happened to the first building, but in 1937, the city of Charleston built a new Dock Street Theatre where the original one was located. Famous Charlestonian Dubose Heyward became the resident writer of the Dock Street Theatre. He is best known for his novel and play by the same name, “Porgy,” a story that portrays Gullah life. The play was performed in New York over 300 times, toured across the country and played in London, England. Heyward is also known for his collaboration with the famous Broadway musical composers, George and Ira Gershwin on “Porgy and Bess,” often called the best American opera ever written.
Today, the Dock Street Theatre provides a place for performances by community arts organizations. Community theater utilizes local talents and resources for productions. Although most of these productions are staged and performed by volunteers who love the theater, some professional companies, like The Charleston Stage Company, pay actors, technical crew and staff. Community theaters, like the Dock Street, are located in many cities and towns in South Carolina and the U.S. Although full-time paying positions may not be available at all community theaters, they provide a place to get hands-on experience and exposure to the ancient art of live theater.