ABOUT: Dallas-born Norma Young founded Theatre Three in 1961 with a $3,000 inheritance from a great-aunt she never knew. Ms. Young had worked as a teacher, as an actress, and as a stage manager in New York, and at the Alley Theatre in Houston. Eager to establish a professional theatre in her hometown, she attracted three additional co-founders to her vision (Jac
Alder, Esther Ragland, and Robert Dracup) and began producing a wide range of dramatic literature. Plays were staged in-the-round (the first seven show season was at the just-opened Sheraton Dallas Hotel) and immediately met with critical and popular approval.
John Rosenfield, the nationally important critic of The Dallas Morning News proclaimed the season contained "...the best acting Dallas has seen in years and years and still more years." Many in the audience had strong and positive memories of Margo Jones' theatre-in-the-round that had been nationally important from 1947 until Ms. Jones' untimely death in 1955. Margo had put Dallas "on the map" as a theatre town, with her emphasis on developing writers and importing actors.
Ms. Young's vision had its own strengths: She drew the plays not only from current playwrights, but also from classical works, from Europe, from the commercial theatre of New York, and even from the literature of musical theatre. She saw her task as not only developing the actors and designers she would employ (all of whom were to be from the area), but as well to develop and broaden the knowledge and experiences of her audience. She named Theatre Three for the three essential elements she defined as "co-equal:" the playwright, the production, and the audience. Accessibility was to be paramount; the season was, from the beginning, year-round rather than limited to only certain months. From the beginning, the theatre was accessible to artists of color whose gifts illuminated many productions before the civil rights act and political correctness.
After seven shows in the hotel, Theatre Three needed larger accommodations for its operations, so the operation moved into a remodeled 1920s garage building in what is now known as "Deep Ellum". Continuing to enjoy critical approval it introduced Dallas to Pinter, Albee, Kopit, Becket, Behan, and many more contemporary playwrights as well as producing new plays by Williams, Vidal, Hellman and revivals of masterpieces by Shakespeare, Shaw, O'Neill, and Moliere - all acted by a growing cadre of Dallas professional actors.
By 1969, Theatre Three had again outgrown its facility. With the aid of its Board of Directors, led by founding board president John Wisenbaker as well as local business leaders, the operation leased space in the Quadrangle (an assemblage of shops and restaurants near downtown in what's now called "Uptown"). The move doubled seating capacity, improved administrative and production facilities, and it is still the home for this professional, Equity theatre. In 1985, after an exhaustive capital campaign, Theatre Three purchased the building and did extensive remodeling (including adding rehearsal, costume shop, and enlarged administrative and public spaces).
Until 2003, Theatre Three was the only major Dallas arts organization not housed in city-owned (and thus city-subsidized) housing. (A benefit that The Dallas Theatre Center, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Dallas Symphony and The Dallas Opera enjoy).
heatre Three introduced the metroplex to classic plays, musicals, and scores of new Tony-winning and Pulitzer winning writers. The theatre's appreciation of playwrights has even inspired a number of actors from the company to pursue writing for the stage, thus contributing to the successful careers of two who went on to win their own Pulitzer Prize: Beth Henley and Doug Wright, both of whom acted extensively on Theatre Three's stage on their formative creative years. Theatre Three also served as a presenter of touring artists, including Marcel Marceau, Hal Holbrook, and Arthur Fiedler.
Outside the metroplex, Theatre Three has toured the region, serving audiences throughout Texas and in fourteen other states. On site, Theatre Three has consistently maintained innovative programming (special events in addition to its mainstage season), including festivals of new works by minority writers, children's theatre programming, special musical performance pieces, debut productions of emerging theatre troupes (and special artists projects) as well as special tributes to historically significant people, events and achievements.
Theatre Three produces seven mainstage productions each year in addition to special children's performances, off-site educational outreach, special event productions and the programming in Theatre Too (the basement performing space). Theatre Too was, from September of 2000 until July 2003 home to the longest-running show in the history of Dallas theatre, the musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!
Theatre Too currently houses a six show season (running between August and June) of original plays, adaptations of literary works, musical revues, and biographical drama.
Ms. Young continued as the theatre's founding Artistic Director until her death in 1998. Jac Alder, another of the original founders (who had married Ms. Young in 1961) has remained with the theatre and continues to serve as the Executive Producer-Director in charge of both artistic and administrative affairs
2800 Routh Street, Ste. 168
Dallas, TX 75201-1417