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Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) was founded in 1978 by recent graduates of Northwestern University, who relocated to Bloomsburg during the previous two years for master classes with legendary acting teacher Alvina Krause. Under Krause’s inspiration, they established a resident ensemble of actors, directors, writers, and teachers. Their goal was to create a theatre that would, in Krause’s words, be “as important to its community as schools and churches”. Over the years there have been 37 members; of the current seven, three of them are from the founding years.
BTE provides a season of five or six plays each year on the stage at the Alvina Krause Theatre, a women’s solo performance arts festival, and year round theatre in education programs in schools and also in their facilities in Bloomsburg. They’ve also produced shows in other venues around town (The Exchange and Capitol Bar and Grill) and in other towns (Community Arts Center in Williamsport). BTE produces well-loved community events such as Treefest and The Taming of the Brew. BTE is unique in the region. They are the only professional theatre within fifty miles of Bloomsburg that regularly produces contemporary American plays, along with the classics. From time to time they also present shows from outside producers.
During the past 37 seasons, hallmarks of their Main Stage have been original, company created works on local and regional history: Hard Coal, Life in the Region, Flood Stories, Too; Letters to the Editor, and Susquehanna.
Nationally, BTE is recognized as a leader in the ensemble theatre movement as a co-founder of the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Since 1995, NET has grown into an over 160-member organization to promote ensemble theatre practice and generate interest in ensemble as a sustainable model for community-based work. BTE member Laurie McCants is currently the Chair of NET’s Board of Trustees.
Each year BTE supports hundreds of local and regional charities and fundraisers by donating tickets to their performances. Each year they provide one performance of their holiday show to the Food Bank to collect food. Through Treefest they work with the Columbia County Child Development Center to provide over 100 trees and gifts to needy families. In addition, they have partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Volunteer Partners in Medicine.
As funding for arts programs diminishes BTE supports local and regional schools by providing funds to the schools so that they can book shows. BTE continues to look for ways to make theatre going affordable for everyone in the community through Pay What you Want performances and through their new Group Sales program. For more information, contact Jon White-Spunner at [email protected] or visit www.bte.org
The subject of each month’s Member Spotlight is selected from attendees of Chamber events.