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To connect with the creative spirit of the community through the experience of live theatre.
A community that embraces the performing arts as a defining and treasured expression of life.
We believe in the power of theatre.
We believe in the talent and commitment of volunteers.
We believe in the nurturing relationship between audience and artists.
We believe in the unique experience of live art.
In 1955, a group of PTA members at Valparaiso's Ben Franklin Junior High School produced a play to raise money for band uniforms. The fun they experienced and the talent they discovered induced them to start an amateur drama company, and in May of 1955 the Valparaiso Little Theatre Guild was formed. Their first production, "Papa Is All," opened in August at Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso.
By 1957, the group realized that their membership ranged beyond Valparaiso and so changed the name to Community Theatre Guild (CTG). Also in 1957, they began to lease the Memorial Opera House, built as a Civil War Memorial in 1893, from the Porter County Commissioners. CTG's mission was now multi-purpose: "to bring living, legitimate theatre to residents of the area and to provide opportunity for participation to those interested in the many activities and crafts associated with theatrical production," and "the rehabilitation and preservation of the Memorial Opera House."
The season was set at four productions per year until 1957, when a children's show - by adults, for children - was added. The first musical, "Once Upon A Mattress," was presented in 1964 and was such a success that it was decided that one of the four regular productions would always be a musical. Beginning with the first Valparaiso Popcorn Festival in 1979, CTG has supported the event by producing a Popcorn Children's Play each year. Children had participated in CTG productions whenever appropriate, but not until the late 1980's could they experience the ownership of their own productions. This experience began with the Winter Carnival in 1988 and became a scheduled event with Kids CTG in 1995.
CTG went through a big change at the end of its 40th year in 1996. Because Memorial Opera House needed fairly major renovation, CTG was asked to move out of the building. Performances were held at various venues around the area: Machinists' Hall, Valparaiso University, on location (Jimmy's Cafe) and in a rented room dubbed "CTG's Alley Studio." When it became obvious in 1997 that CTG would not be returning to the newly-renovated Opera House, they purchased the former Assemblies of God church and set about turning it into the Chicago Street Theatre.
CTG began participating in the Indiana Community Theatre League (ICTL) State Excerpt Festival in 1981 and continues to win honors across the state and throughout the Midwest. As a member of the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation (NIETF), CTG actively supports community theatre throughout the Northwest Indiana region.
Membership in CTG is open to anyone who wants the opportunity to participate in the activities and crafts associated with theatrical productions, be it onstage or behind-the-scenes.
- Danielle Garrison
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