The history of Beacon Theatre Productions begins in 2011 with Georgina Bard – a theatre artist in the Philadelphia area who saw the need for theatre that not only educates, inspires, and challenges, but is accessible to communities and individuals who may not have the means to experience it otherwise. With this desire, she incorporated the company in 2011, sought out board members and other professionals, and by July of 2012, Beacon Theatre Productions became an official 501(c)(3) organization.
Since 2011, Beacon Theatre Productions has found a place in the Philadelphia community: producing theatre that spotlights critical moments of the past to show the way to a better more equitable future. Shows are often free to the public or offered at affordable ticket prices. Since 2011, BTP has brought plays to a variety of venues including schools, community centers, historical sites, senior living communities, churches and other indoor and outdoor locations. We have produced plays about the enslavement of people of color, those who worked for the abolition of slavery, the mistreatment of employees prior to the establishment of labor unions, the struggle to obtain woman's suffrage, the unjust treatment of Black soldiers during the American Civil War, and a deeper compassion for those experiencing trauma and grief. We have brought to life the characters of: O. Henry, Arthur Conan Doyle, Frederick Douglass, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Sigmund Freud, Harriet Forten Purvis, Charlotte Forten Grimké, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia and James Mott. We have also hosted other theatre artists' portrayal of historical characters such as Mrs. Deborah Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Richard Allen, Dorothy Day, Sojourner Truth and more.
In January 2014, we partnered with Olivet Covenant Church in the Fairmount area of Philadelphia to use a space in their building as a rehearsal and performing venue. We appreciated this opportunity, but due to unforeseen circumstances in 2017, we needed to relocate. We are currently grateful that we are able to use space in 2nd Baptist Church of Germantown, on Germantown Avenue and Upsal, which is now our home base of operation.
In our 9 year history we have produced 4 full length plays: Bonhoeffer's Cost by Mary Ruth Clark, Young Frederick Douglass by Walt Vail, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Steven Dietz, and Freud's Last Session by Mark St. Germain. BTP also presented I Will Speak for Myself created by Kimberley Fairbanks and Valerie Joyce; and we have produced showcases and new play readings created by Philadelphia theatre artists. We have formed relationships with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Men of C.O.U.R.A.G.E and VetTix and have offered free tickets to these organizations for our Mentor Matinees and select shows.
We have premiered Mr. President, I'm Frederick Douglass by Georgina Bard and Richard Hadley; Mary Todd Lincoln: the Woman You Thought You Knew by Georgina Bard; O. Henry Live! Ransoms and Gifts! by Jen Jaynes; The Red Letter Locker by Randy Petersen; Buried Truths by Jen Jaynes; Letters to Aunt Hattie by Gigi McGraw and Under the Bonnet by Shelli Pentimall-Bookler. Each was workshopped and developed by BTP and were World Premieres.
For 2021 - New plays are currently in development that will be presented in various virtual styles. In January, February, and March you will meet the characters of Sojourner Truth, Fanny Lou Hamer, Jo Ann Robinson, Frederick Douglass, and Edmonia Lewis. We are also developing a world premiere play based on stories and interviews with members of the Fairhill community in Philadelphia. The production will be co-created with the community and is scheduled for August 2021 in the Fairhill area.
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Even with the need to pivot to virtual programming we are still committed to tell the stories of people from the past that inspire compassion, understanding, and hope for a better, more equitable future. Let's do this together!