Penobscot Theatre Company, America's Northeastern-most professional theatre company, started in 1973 by George Vafiadis and Lou Collier as the Acadia Repertory Theatre. Penobscot Theatre Company was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 on March 17, 1983. The School For Wives was the first play officially produced by the PTC - before that, Acadia Repertory Theatre was responsible for presenting 97 productions in Bangor. Acadia Rep still operates on Mount Desert Island as a separate entity.
George Vafiadis remained Producing Director from 1983 through 1990. Kenneth Stack was PTC's Artistic Director from 1983 to 1989. In 1986 the greater Bangor community helped Penobscot Theatre raise $160,000 for the purchase and initial renovation of the beautiful historic parish house (built in 1888 at 183 Main Street) that it had been renting from the church next door. The Theatre sold the parish house to Merrill Bank in 2004.
Joe Turner Cantu became Artistic Director in 1990 and remained in that position through 1992 when Mark Torres was named Producing Artistic Director and stayed in that position for the next 13 seasons. Under Torres' leadership, the theatre reorganized to operate with paid professionals, tripled the budget and increased attendance to over 15,000 annually. Torres also increased the theatre's activity to include the annual Maine Shakespeare Festival, which performed on the banks of the Penobscot River for 7 summers.
In 1997, Penobscot Theatre acquired the Bangor Opera House, which now serves as the company's base of operations. The Bangor Opera House, located at 131 Main Street, is the last remaining theatre in downtown Bangor, a community which supported 7 such venues in the first part of the 20th Century. The Opera House was built in 1920 and is an early example of Art Deco/Egyptian Revival architecture.
In 2005, current Producing Artistic Director Scott R.C. Levy was hired to lead the theatre into its fourth decade. Since Levy's arrival, Penobscot Theatre has toured productions throughout the state of Maine, initiated a new play development program which includes a 2-week long New Play Festival, and begun the restoration of the Bangor Opera House.
Upon Levy’s departure, the board instituted a new dual leadership
structure, and hired Marcie Bramucci as Managing Director and Bari
Newport as Artistic Director. Working in close collaboration, they are
charting the course for continued growth through sound management,
strong programming, adherence to the highest professional standards, and
the development of enduring community-based partnerships.
With the approach of the theatre’s 40th anniversary, the stage is set for continued success. PTC’s 2011 production of A Christmas Story, directed by Interim Artistic Director Nathan Halverson, had the highest attendance of any show in the theatre’s history. Beyond the theatre's main stage season, PTC's educational and outreach programming is the largest in the state, serving thousands of Maine youths through school-based workshops, student matinees, and summer and after-school programs.
The consistent quality of performances and the diversity of the theatre’s offerings have earned PTC a special place within the fabric of the greater Bangor community. With its strong leadership, talented and dedicated staff, and the ongoing support of local businesses and individuals, Penobscot Theatre Company will continue to play an integral role in the economic development of Bangor’s downtown, the vitality of the region’s cultural community, and the lives of area residents and visitors.
Beyond the theatre's mainstage season, Penobscot Theatre's educational and outreach programming is the largest in the state, serving thousands of Maine students in schools with workshops. The theatre also offers post-show discussions, student matinees and summer theatre workshops.