Riverside Community Players, Inc.
4026 Fourteenth Street
Riverside, California 92501-4003
Tel: (951) 369-1200
Fax: (951) 369-1261
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Riverside Community Players
To create and perpetuate, through community involvement and expression, high quality theater accessible to Riverside and surrounding communities while providing opportunities for education and fellowship.
The story begins in 1925 when Janet Scott gathered together a handful of eager amateurs to produce plays under the Drama Department of the Riverside Woman’s Club. Desiring their own identity, separate from the Riverside Woman’s Club, they left the Riverside Woman’s Club and in September of 1926 twenty-seven charter members, led by Janet Scott and James Coleman Scott, met to elect officers and officially launched the Community Players.
The first productions as an independent organization were presented at the Loring Building, also known as the Loring Opera House. After two seasons, in 1928, the Loring became the Golden State (movie) Theatre and the Players moved to Central Junior High School. Resolved to finally have a home of their own, fundraising events were held. With the generosity of friends and neighbors, over four thousand dollars was contributed to purchase the old, unoccupied Washington School Building. Remodeling work was carried on nightly and on weekends and in May, 1930 the Players production of The Queen’s Husband opened in their new home.
With the start of the war different troubles began, posing new struggles to overcome. Young male actors were hard to find and subject to a call to service at any time – including in the middle of rehearsals. Gasoline rationing curtailed attendance. But the Players persevered, finding male actors at March Field and providing transportation to and from rehearsals.
In 1950, The Players found themselves on the move as the Board of Education purchased the land the theatre had sat on. Spending two seasons at the Playbox Theater at Ninth& Lime, formerly Riverside Girl’s High School, and a season at Riverside City College's Auditorium; the Players decided they needed a space to call their own.
The arena theatre was becoming increasingly popular and seemed an ideal solution to the Players building needs. Riverside’s then mayor, Ben Lewis, was the Players president during the building year. Architect Herman Ruhnau designed the building and the firm of Paul Rooth and Tom Carr did the construction work. These men and many subcontractors gave of their time and knowledge without profit, making possible its completion in September, 1953 at a cost of $17,500. Several additions have been made to the theatre since that time – including the Green Room, dressing room, prop and work room and the landscaping and patio, which was completed in 1967.
While a very nice resolution, indeed, the quest for a permanent home was not over yet. The theatre building belonged to Riverside Community Players, but the land itself was leased from the City at the cost of one dollar per year. However, over the years, and after an assortment of land swaps, the land came to be owned by Riverside Community Hospital and in 1989, Riverside Community Players was notified that when the forty year lease was up in 1993 it would not be renewed.
The ensuing few years were filled with a lot of hard work, a few false starts and a lot of anxiety. A substantial amount of money was raised, but not nearly enough to purchase and renovate a building and provide parking. Finally, a few dedicated and determined people came to the rescue and Riverside Community Hospital was persuaded to sell the land on which the theatre sat to Riverside Community Players. So, in October of 1995, 70 years after the group was created, Riverside Community Players had a permanent home.
Who says perseverance doesn't pay! Having been able to pay cash for the property due to the generosity of its may loyal patrons and members, Riverside Community Players remains debt free and continues to provide quality entertainment every season.