Davidson Community Players is a non-profit organization established to produce theatre that entertains, enriches, and encourages community participation in the dramatic arts. The Connie Company is DCP’s theatre for youth division. Both organizations have a long standing record of providing creative, authentic and affordable opportunities for both children and adults.
Davidson Community Players envisions a future where we continue to be the premier theatrical organization in our community. We seek to provide adults and youth with opportunities to experience live theater of the highest quality throughout the year.
One of our primary objectives is to create valuable experiences for all members of our community. We embody a passion for the performing arts and as a community theater, we:
- rely on volunteer time and talent to support high quality productions and to provide organizational stability;
- are committed to community outreach, for our actors, volunteers and others; and
- strive to make our deep appreciation be known to all who are inspired to join our efforts.
Relying on the financial support of individuals and organizations, as well as proceeds from ticket sales, we are committed to being responsible stewards of our resources.
Values and Guiding Principles
Davidson Community Players was founded by Constance Welsh, a drama teacher, director, and actress. The Players’ first production was in July 1965 and Connie gathered a group of college and town residents interested in theater to produce an original play, “Time of Harvest”, written by Connie’s husband, Wilmer Welsh. Connie, a theatre arts major form Carnegie Mellon, led the young organization as it produced one or two plays every summer, primarily in Hodson Hall on the Davidson College campus.
During the years 1965 to 1980, the Players were loosely organized and Connie directed the majority of productions. Among the shows produced during this period were “The Bald Soprano” by Eugene Ionesco, “You Can’t Take it With You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, “Our Town” by Thorton Wilder, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, “Major Barbara,” by George Bernard Shaw, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee, and “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov
In the early 80’s, Connie moved to Charlotte. To survive the gap left by her departure, the Players hired their first executive director, Pam Stephenson, and organized an executive board under chair Max Polley. Connie returned to direct “A Thousand Clowns” in 1981, and her final production with the Players the year before her death, “The Rainmaker” in 1990.
During the period from 1982-89, seventeen plays were produced and a number of significant developments occurred. The Players applied for and received non-profit status, performances were increased to two weekends for each production, Fireside Readings were established, and in 1985 the first children’s play in collaboration with Davidson College’s Theater department was produced. The Players began to pay for the services of set designers, stage directors and technical coordinators as well as the executive director.
Kim Beard served as Executive Director for ten years (1989-99). During her tenure twenty-three plays were produced, including the Players’ first musical in 1991, “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson. In 1996 a children’s theater company, The Connie Company, was formed under the direction of Rupert Barber. The Players also continued to work with the Davidson College Theater department to produce a children’s play every year.
From 2000 to 2002 Karen Sorenson served as executive director. During her term in office the Players presented its first production in the Duke Family Performance Hall, “The Sound of Music,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, breaking all attendance records. From 2003 until 2009, the Players were guided by Cindy Rice as its first full-time executive director. She led significant growth of DCP including the acquisition of a theatre, the Armour Street Theatre, to bolster DCP’s education programs and productions.
Matthew Merrell, a former board member and chair, was hired in 2011 as the executive director. He led DCP into receiving greater corporate support, expanded DCP’s educational programming and created the position of Education Director and maintained the high quality of performances. Steve Kaliski, a Davidson College alum and experienced New York director, actor, and producer, took over for Matt in 2023.
The Players now produce a five play season, two summer shows produced at a 525 seat venue on the campus of Davidson College, and a holiday and winter youth show at the Cain Center for the Arts. DCP also offers two additional children’s productions, two teen summer stock productions, and many youth classes and workshops for theater arts education and performance opportunities.