Sharing the human experience

Portland Playhouse was founded with two core principles: inclusion and artistic excellence.

We intentionally confront the real or perceived bias that theatre is only for an elite audience. We believe that creative expression is for everyone and participation in creative experiences brings families, friends, and neighbors together.

Theatre can help us better understand each other’s differences and increase our capacity for empathy. We are committed to bringing a voice to our diverse community through the arts.

We established our theatre in a historic repurposed church in Northeast Portland in 2008 and have quickly garnered a reputation for an innovative approach to both our artistic and educational programs.

In ten years, Portland Playhouse has grown from an annual audience of 850 in our first year to 15,000 in Season 10, and our educational programs have served more than 6,500 youth.

Old church in portland Since 2008, the theater has operated in a historic repurposed church in Northeast Portland. (Photo: Portland Playhouse)

We’ve mounted 44 successful productions, presenting important works from well-known, culturally diverse playwrights like August Wilson to new work by emerging voices like Idris Goodwin and Mia Chung.

Named City’s Best Theatre by Portland Monthly readers, we have also been recognized with 41 awards for a variety of productions.

As a 2015 and 2016 American Theatre Wing (creator of the Tony Awards) “National Theatre Company Award” recipient, we have been recognized as “integral to the fabric of the community and furthering the national cultural conversation in exciting ways.”

group of people outside church Because of a zoning issue, Portland Playhouse underwent a months-long journey to gain the right to permanently own their church/theater. (Photo: Portland Playhouse)

Our community has come to rely on us as their neighborhood arts center.

Several years ago, when the Bureau of Development Services asked us to vacate the building because of a zoning issue, we began a months-long journey to gain the right to come home.

With the King and Sabin Neighborhood Associations’ support, all five City Commissioners voted in favor of our appeal to return to the church building.

theater performance Issac Lamb and Rebecca Terran in Scarlet. (Photo: Brud Giles/Portland Playhouse)

We were humbled by the hundreds of neighborhood residents who wrote letters of support and demonstrated their commitment by filling City Council chambers on the day of our hearing.

When asked why she supported our appeal, Barbara Conable said:

“I took [a neighbor friend of mine] to see [August Wilson’s] Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I’ve lived in Sabin four years. She’s lived there all her life, and she is five days older than I am. When it was finished, she grabbed my hand and shook it over and over and said, ‘They got it right. Barbara, they got it right.’"
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Portland Playhouse is dedicated to producing quality, intimate, performances in which the interaction between artists and audience is paramount. We hold theatre to be a space in which all people can come together to celebrate the complexity of our shared human experience.

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