Many people don’t know it, but the Fort Smith Little Theatre is the oldest theater in Arkansas that has never broke operations and is all-volunteer. It’s a gem right in the middle of our growing community that is a fun thing to do for a night out with family or friends.
The Young Ladies Guild of Sparks Memorial Hospital way back in 1947 wanted to have a fundraiser and make money by putting on the play Mr. and Mrs. North. Thus the Fort Smith Little Theater came into being. At first, the plays were held in auditoriums of schools, lecture halls and ballrooms in hotels.
A grocery store was bought in 1952 and the group had it renovated so it would be a theater in the round that could hold 150 people. The new theater was located on North O Street and there the organization stayed until 1986, when a new theater was built on North Sixth Street and called The Center, Inc.
Each year, there are six full productions with eight or more performances each in a two-week period. The schedule of performances is put together a year ahead of time by the theater’s board of directors.
No other little theater in Arkansas can claim the longevity of the Fort Smith Little Theatre. We’re so proud to have this theater in our city – and we hope more people will patronize it. The theater has been a complete volunteer effort since the beginning. Actors and stage crew are all brought on for a performance from open auditions, and the organization has zero paid employees.
Which means they’re just doing it for the fun of it. That’s a nice break from constantly trying to make money. Money is fine and good, but sometimes there are things more important than money – and watching local people act in excellent stage performances simply because they love it is one of them.
And it’s not only the actors and crew who are sought by the organization. There’s always a need for people to fill administrative roles, answer phones and paint sets. On the theater’s website, it says “. . . there’s a job for anyone interested in meeting new friends through community theatre.”
Nick and I hope this theater has another 65 years of success and bringing Fort Smith fun entertainment that almost everyone can enjoy.
Support the Fort Smith Little Theatre. Take a break from TV once in awhile.