A BRIEF HISTORY
On July 28, 1974, the Tahlequah Area Arts and Humanities Council, with the assistance of the National
Endowment for the Arts, the Oklahoma Arts and Humanities Council and the Cherokee National Historical Society, mounted a community production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Tsa La Gi Outdoor Amphitheatre. Appearing in the title role was Paul Grover.
On September 30, 1974, an organizational meeting was held to create a community theatre. There were 15 individuals present with officers elected at that first meeting. Those elected were: Steve Johnson, President; Paul Grover, Vice President; Judy Boatright, Secretary-Treasurer and Margaret Swimmer, Member-at-Large. It was announced that all future meetings would be held on the last Monday of the month.
Should anyone think that switching plays in the middle of a season is a new thing for TCP, it was announced at that first meeting that the first play would be The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, scheduled for October 22 and 23. On November 22 and 23, the first Tahlequah Community Playhouse, Twentieth Century Players production was held. It was Ten Nights in a Bar-room.
Over the last 25 years, TCP has presented 100 public productions, five of those community musicals in conjunction with the Arts Council of Tahlequah (formerly the Tahlequah Area Arts and Humanities Council). The plays have ranged from slapstick comedy to serious drama with adult themes. There have been campy melodramas, fun children’s plays and numerous plays written by local authors. TCP has participated in other community events as well, including, but not limited to, a Grand Old Opry style country show, Sweet Adelines’ Christmas concerts, and productions for public schools. TCP has also performed benefits for the public library, Cherokee County Hospice, Help-In-Crisis, and the C.A.R.E. Community Food Pantry, to name only a few.
Thirty different individuals have directed plays for TCP. Seven directors have been women. Twelve directors have undertaken that challenge only one time.
In 1982 a logo for the Tahlequah Community Playhouse, Twentieth Century Players was designed by Janey Hendrix. As the 1990’s approached, Twentieth Century Players was dropped from the logo and in 1990 a new logo was designed by Connie Mnich. That logo and variations of it are still in use.
Following the 1979/80 season, members of TCP decided to hand out awards for the first time. The first Best Production Award went to Erwin Turner for the play Nothing But the Truth. The next year Dr. Turner was given an award for “Behind the Scenes” work. Dr. Turner died later that year. The Awards that TCP hands out each year were named in his honor, the ERWINS.