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Theatre Department Summer Theatre

The oldest continuously-running summer stock theatre on the Great Plains

A vital performing arts activity in the Flint Hills

The oldest continuously-running summer stock 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 since 1980 the current format of 4 shows has been the norm. Audiences are drawn from cities and towns throughout Kansas and from throughout the region. Hundreds of former ESU students have benefited from the intense training that only a summer stock experience can provide.

  • June 12 – 15: What I Did Last Summer by A.R. Gurney, a coming of age comedy set in a Lake Erie resort near the end of WWII.
  • June 26 – 29: America’s Songbook from our 2006 season is a musical revue that tells the story of America through song; a popular production of our 2002 season.
  • July 10 – 13: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield is a fast-paced romp through all of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • July 24 – 27: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is a musical adaptation of the hit children’s book by Jon Sciezka where the Big Bad Wolf is put on trial for his crimes against “piggydom.”

Our season represents a yearlong selection process by our faculty, our students and you—our audiences. We hope that you will join us to support our talented students and guest artists. Our new season features three titles new to ESU stages plus a beloved Neil Simon comedy classic. And we are happy to have several alums return in prominent roles. We are excited for another memorable season of quality theatre.

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.

Jim Bartruff, Director
ESU Theatre

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