In the summer of 1970 a group of former University of Tulsa students under the leadership and the guiding hand of Ms. Kitty Roberts founded what was destined to become the American Theatre Company. The theatre was founded to provide audiences with an alternative to the limited theatre offerings at the time in Tulsa and to develop a professionally oriented theatrical experience with the aim of establishing a resident professional company. The first season offered a variety of plays ranging from the very newest off-Broadway works to classics like Shakespeare’s Hamlet. That first season also saw the theatre’s first touring shows going to other cities in Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The second season found the theatre moving from their abandoned furniture store at First and Main to the Central Library’s Aaronson Auditorium where they stayed for three seasons. From there ATC moved to a variety of locations before being named the official resident theatre at Philbrook Art Center where they premiered the long-running holiday musical A Christmas Carol. With the opening of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, ATC had a new home and is one of the few, if not the only, performing arts groups to have utilized all of the performing spaces in the building. During these years ATC continued to offer touring shows all over the state and educational workshops in schools throughout Oklahoma.
In the late 1970’s, ATC became the only nationally recognized resident professional theatre in Oklahoma. In 1979 ATC began doing shows in their “second stage” at the Brook Theatre which they had converted into a legitimate theatre. The Brook and ATC are credited with, if not starting, at least greatly helping the start of the revitalization of Brookside. ATC occupied the Brook for eight years before consolidating the season again at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Now in ATC’s 47th Season of offering Tulsa and Oklahoma shows ranging from Hamlet to Rocky Horror, Peter Pan to Greater Tuna, Hedda Gabler to Candida, O Tulsa! to Bye, Bye, Birdie!, The Boys in the Band to Treasure Island, Tartuffe to The Vanities, The Diary of Anne Frank to Romeo and Juliet, Driving Miss Daisy to LuAnn Hampton Laverty Oleander, 5th of July to Ah, Wilderness!, Ms. Raccoon’s Profession to Joyce Martel, Twelve Angry Men to The Full Monty, The Immigrant to Speech and Debate, Of Mice and Men to Side Show, 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee to Any Day Now, [title of show] to The Neverending Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream to A Christmas Carol; winner of multiple TATE Awards, and in the new home at ATC Studio at 308 South Lansing in the sunny side of Downtown Tulsa, American Theatre Company continues to strive to present great stories well told.
Kathryn Hall Shackelford