Detroit Repertory Theatre

Adapted from information at

The Detroit Repertory Theatre is one of the country's few remaining neighborhood-based professional theatres. A model of grassroots artistic development, it practices race-transcendent casting, without regard to ethnicity and gender (unless germane to the play).

From 1957 to 1963, adult actors toured Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania presenting musical plays for children. In the early sixties the theatre company settled at Woodrow Wilson, where rents and circumstances matched the theatre's financial condition and interracial policies. Along with its neighbors, the Rep experienced the 1967 riot, racial polarization, "white flight," and direct and indirect forms of bigotry.

In the 1970s, the theatre took on a mortgage to acquire ownership of their intimate theatre and two additional backup facilities. Meeting the labor terms set by Actors' Equity Association (the union for stage actors) made the Rep the only fully professional non-profit theatre in Detroit at the time. And slowly the audience grew.

In 1980, a grant from the Kresge Foundation made it possible to renovate the exterior of the building, and it became a symbol of the neighborhood's revitalization. In 1986 the Detroit Repertory Theatre received the CCAM Governor's award, attesting to extraordinary achievement in theatre art. And by 1987 the theatre burned its mortgage and owned all its buildings outright. During the 1980s, the 184-seat theater served more than 150,000 theater-goers, more than triple the previous decade.

In the 1990s, another Kresge grant made it possible for the theater to raise funds, design and execute a $250,000 renovation and expansion of the auditorium, lobby and restrooms, and parking lot. The Repertory is very proud to play at 85% capacity to an audience that is largely African American; and to operate with a balanced budget despite declines in arts funding.

The theatre is looking forward to widening its sphere of influence, expanding its workweek, raising artists' wages and increasing staff.
  • Longest Running Show: Aubrey
  • Performances: 52

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