The historic Priscilla Beach Theatre is the oldest barn theater still in operation in America. Founded by Dr. Franklin Trask in 1937, the theater quickly became one of the most respected schools of theater training in America. This innovation of summer stock "in a barn" rapidly flourished throughout the country. The barn playhouses brought theater into the hinterlands and provided needed laboratories for both young and experienced actors to learn and perfect their craft. In its heyday (in the 1940s and early 1950s) the complex included dozens of cottages, a mansion and carriage house, a 200-seat theater, and a 60-seat theater. As many as 150 actors and actresses were in residence. In 1962, James Lonigro (a.k.a Geronimo Sands), an accomplished performer of stage, screen, radio and television, bought the theater from Dr. Trask and has been its creative force since. PBT has more than 75 years of history building performers. But more important, PBT builds future leaders.
PBT's top staff is ever concerned with maintaining the atmosphere of professional theater and creating a disciplined ensemble. This sets the proper mood for the young artist to combine training and rehearsal with practical stage experience.
The following timeline was primarily created from a wonderful book by Bojan Hamlin Jennings titled Priscilla Beach Theatre (January 2000).
Mrs. Jennings is not only an accomplished published author but also an accomplished chemist who taught at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and happens to live in one PBT’s original houses that sites on the bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay.
“As my relationship with this small theatre progressed, I became convinced that the saga of Priscilla Beach Theatre should be recorded. Not only because of my personal interest, but more importantly because PBT has from its beginning had unusual, if not unique, aspects which earn it a place in the chronicles of American theatre”.
- Priscilla Beach Theatre by Bojan Hamlin Jennings 2000