Austin Playhouse creates opportunities for artists and audiences to celebrate the human experience through professional theatrical productions that nourish minds, delight spirits, and enrich lives.
Austin Playhouse is a professional regional theatre, founded in August of 2000. Over fifty of Austin's leading theatre artists, administrators, and volunteers who had worked with Founding Producing Artistic Director Don Toner to build Austin’s State Theatre Company into one of the city’s leading arts organizations, joined him in creating this new professional theatre for Austin. On November 27, 2000 Austin Playhouse was granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service.
Austin Playhouse produced its inaugural season at Concordia University under a Small Professional Theatre contract with Actors' Equity Association. Joining 320 season subscribers were over 1,800 single ticket buyers for a total attendance of 2,800 at 40 performances. In 2002, the company renovated a warehouse space at Penn Field into two performance spaces with modest support facilities. The initial renovation included a 150-seat main stage theatre with a lobby, art gallery, and concession area. With a subscriber base of 710 patrons for its third season, annual attendance increased to 8,040 at 96 performances. An estimated attendance of 3,600 for other arts organizations performing at Austin Playhouse brought the total annual attendance to 11,640.
Austin Playhouse’s second performance space, the Larry L. King Theatre, opened in 2006 with a four play season that featured new plays by local playwrights, world and regional premieres, and hosted new play readings. In 2010, faced with rising rents at Penn Field, Austin Playhouse moved to a temporary facility in the Mueller Redevelopment before being invited by Austin Community College to renovate a storefront in ACC owned Highland Mall in 2012.
In 2019 Austin Playhouse purchased 2.8 Acres of land on the 183 Frontage Road and initiated a capital campaign to build a permanent, sustainable facility.
In 2021, Austin Playhouse moved out of the ACC Highland space and relocated to an interim facility located in UT's West Campus neighborhood.
During the past twenty-two seasons, Austin Playhouse has produced over 120 professional productions including 36 world or regional premieres. Recent production highlights include the live theatre world premiere of Lauren Gunderson's The Catastrophist, the world premiere of Lisa B. Thompson's Monroe, the world premiere commissioned production of Katherine Catmull's Summer and Bird, and regional premieres of Steven Dietz' Bloomsday and This Random World.
Austin Playhouse recently completed a strategic plan with goals that include creating a sustainable theatre ecology in Austin through the development of canon-caliber new plays and serving as a career-long home for professional local theatre artists, particularly playwrights and artists of color.