Southeastern Ohio is a rural region, lacking any large urban areas. Zanesville, with a population of approximately 26,000, is one of the largest cities in the area. With the state capital, Columbus, and its professional theater scene, one hour away, amateur theatre is thriving in this small town.
The Zanesville Community Theatre was founded in 1963 by a small group of residents interested in presenting theatrical productions. Many of those original founders were professional people—a judge, a college professor, an engineer. They were, however, very serious about maintaining the quality of their avocation.
The Zanesville Community Theatre, the oldest continuously operating theater in the area, currently owns a circa 1910 building in the historic McIntire Terrace district. The structure was originally constructed as a synagogue, but has also been home to several Christian congregations prior to its use as a performance space.
Five to seven theatrical pieces are produced annually by the organization. The Zanesville Community Theatre has education as the centerpiece of its mission statement, so each season’s offerings usually include one classic, such as plays by Shakespeare. Original pieces by new or unpublished playwrights are becoming an increasingly important staple in the annual list of productions.
The Zanesville Community Theatre has offered a starting place for many young people who have gone on the make careers in the theater. The community theater movement continues to offer a creative outlet to those who have experienced theater careers, or who are talented amateurs.
Originally printed in the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, East Tennessee State University