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Theatre Department Summer Theatre

The oldest continuously-running summer theatre on the Great Plains

A vital performing arts activity in the Flint Hills

The oldest continuously-running summer theatre on the Great Plains was created by Dr. Karl C. Bruder at Emporia State University in 1955. Until 1967, ESU Summer Theatre was presented in Albert Taylor Hall and from 1955-1958 featured an astounding 8 shows in 8 weeks! The usual format for the next 21 years (1959-1979) was 6 shows, and from 1980 until 2020 4 shows was the norm. Starting in 2021, the summer program will serve as a focused, pre-professional opportunity highlighting the skills of rising seniors as performers, designers and production ensemble. Hundreds of former ESU students have benefited from the intense training that our summer experience has provided, and our audiences are drawn from cities and towns throughout Kansas and from throughout the region.

The Underpants

By Carl Sternheim & Adapted by Steve Martin

A Summer Sex Farce • Directed by Pete Rydberg

Ronald Q. Frederickson Theatre •

June 22-26, 2022

A guffaw-inducing comedy from the wild and crazy mind of the incomparable Steve Martin. It's 1910 in Düsseldorf. The placid, conservative life of Theo and Louise Maske is thrown into chaos when Louise’s drawers fall down during the town parade. Sidesplitting chaos ensues as the newlyweds, who have been trying to rent a room in their flat, face an influx of unprincipled prospective male lodgers, each eager to catch a glimpse of the now infamous pair of underpants. Based on the German farce by Carl Sternheim, The Underpants skewers the absurdity of instant fame. Das ist funny!

We believe that summer theatre is a vital performing arts activity in the Flint Hills. You also know that the costs of putting on a summer season of plays continue to rise. As you enjoy this summer theatre offering, we hope that you will take a moment to consider a gift to ESU Theatre.

We encourage Angels to offer a gift to the Butcher Summer Theatre Fund. As this fund grows, we can better meet the growing costs of producing live theatre and help to underwrite the work of our student artists—the heart of ESU Theatre. You can contact the ESU Communication and Theatre office at 341-5256 or, the ESU Foundation can talk with you about the many ways you can contribute. With your help, we hope to provide live theatre every summer for many years to come.

Dr. Pete Rydberg, Director of Theatre
Emporia State University

64 Years of Summer Theatre Productions

Explore our productions over the last 60+ years.
Past Summer Productions

Summer Theatre Angels

If you love ESU Summer Theatre, please become an ESU Summer Theatre Angel!
Summer Theatre Angels