In the fall of 1913, fifteen young men formed "The Auburn Footlights," which would go on to be named AU Players in 1919 when the first women were permitted to join the organization. Over the following years, the Players maintained a strong presence on campus, creating and performing in various locations on campus including the Attic Theatre in Samford Hall, the Chapel (also called the Y-Hut and Players Theatre), and Langdon Hall, before landing in the newly constructed Telfair B. Peet Theatre complex in 1973, which is still home to the Department of Theatre today.
The demand for Theatre soon outgrew the AU Players drama club. On the journey to finding a permanent home, Theatre as a degree offering moved through the departments of English and Speech and the School of Architecture and Fine Arts. Theatre found its current place in the newly formed College of Liberal Arts in 1987 and remains a proud purveyor of the College’s mission, which “encourages civic engagement, emphasizes global perspectives, promotes diversity, and prioritizes public outreach.”
The 2013-2014 Season of Auburn University Theatre marked 100 years of theatre on the Auburn University campus. The still active and engaged AU Players hosted a 100-year celebration looking back on milestones of the AU Theatre journey and bringing together players past and present. Today, AU Theatre students, faculty, and staff honor the longstanding tradition of theatre at Auburn by carrying forward a steadfast mission that connects people, ideas, and art on campus, in the community, and beyond.
Check out the timeline below to learn more about Theatre’s journey at Auburn University.
AU Players and Theatre Department host centennial celebration for over 200 alumni and friends. Reunion organized by AU Players Taylor Dyleski, Anna Claire Walker, Kaye Stucky, Courtney Winkelman, and Diana Freeberg.
A major renovation to the Telfair B. Peet Theatre complex is completed, with a $3.9 million, 10,471-square-foot addition that included a black box theatre and new dance studio.
Mosaic Theatre Company is founded in 2011 by Professor Heather May and Anna Gramberg, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, to find new ways to encourage dialogue about diversity on Auburn University’s campus and beyond.
Professor Dan LaRocque is appointed as Associate Dean of Student Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Scott Phillips is appointed Theatre Chair. Theatre minor is revamped.
Dan LaRocque appointed head of the department. Production tickets sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Gogue, all students are admitted for free to all Theatre productions.
Department celebrates the 75th anniversary of organized Theatre activities on the Auburn campus with a season of All-American plays and hosting the region IV American College Theatre Festival as well as Auburn Theatre alumni reunion.
Department of Theatre accredited by National Association of Schools of Theatre. Department's production of On the Verge was one of six plays from the Southern region to perform at American College Theatre Festival. Department is transferred to the newly formed College of Liberal Arts.
Department's production of Angel Street is one of eight plays out of seventy-three entries to be presented at Regional American College Theatre Festival at Knoxville Tennessee.
The department made its first entry, a production of Rashomon,in the American College Theatre Festival.
The department hosted the American College Theatre Festival XIII, Region IV. Dr. Angotti resigns and Professor Lois Garren is appointed acting department chair.
New Theatre curricula for BFA and BA degrees established to meet minimum standards for accreditation endorsed by American Theatre Association and University and College Theatre Association. Department offered the first three merit and talent based Theatre scholarships in its history.
Students and faculty worked in film Norma Rae which was entirely filmed in Opelika. Rooms 126-127 were remodeled into a studio Theatre space named the "Theatre Upstairs". Theatre Scholarship and Endowment Fund totals over $20,000. Dr. Vincent L. Angotti hired as department head. The first summer repertory season included three shows which played in repertory for five weeks with a total of 28 performances.
Interdepartmental program leading to degree of Bachelor of Sciences in Business Administration with a major in Theatre was inaugurated.
Students completing majors in Theatre in the School of Architecture and Fine Arts were granted Bachelor of Fine Arts for the first time.
The Department of Theatre and Department of Music inaugurate first cooperative musical The Boy Friend.
The department moved into the new fine arts Theatre in January. The first production in the new Theatre, before its official dedication, was the children's play, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Auburn University Theatre Department fully supported from General Fund. Free admission policy for AU students discontinued. Official dedication ceremonies for the Theatre were conducted on May 19 with Dr. George R. Kernodle, Auburn graduate and renowned international Theatre historian, giving the dedicatory address. Schiller's Mary Stuart was the dedication performance. The first scholarship endowment fund for Theatre was established by Dr. Harrison from dance recital proceeds and a portion of admission income. Auburn University Board of Trustees voted to name the new building the Telfair B. Peet University Theatre.
New full-time position in Costumes is added. Department becomes charter member of the Alabama Theatre League.
Contract for construction on the Theatre awarded to Burns, Kirkley, and Williams of Auburn and construction began in January
Dr. Cleveland Harrison named department head, and served as consultant with Northington, Smith, Kranert, and Associates in design of a new fine arts building
Guest artist, Damon Brazwell, became both the first black and the first professional actor to perform in an Auburn University Theatre production.
Chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, national honorary dramatics society, established on campus. The name of the department changes from Dramatic Arts to Theatre and a new four-year curriculum was approved and initiated.
Dr. Kenneth Campbell named head of the department. Children's Theatre established and toured three plays in state.
Telfair Peet invented a portable aluminum stage that would fit in the back of a mass-produced Ford Sedan. This stage was used for extensively for touring by the Army in WWII.
Players begin staging all their major productions at Players Theatre (currently the AU Chapel) on Thach and College.
Players adopt a new program form in emulation of Carolina Playmakers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This new form includes the establishment of the tragedy mask as the AU Players logo.
Private Lives by Noel Coward is presented by Players for only an invited audience of 100 faculty members because the content is deemed too risqué for the student body.
Auburn Players were awarded a percentage of the Student Activity Fee to support their activities and all students could attend Players meetings free of charge.
Telfair Boys Peet appointed to supervise drama which was again under the English Department after the speech department had disbanded
Department of Speech and drama was founded and drama courses were moved from the English department to the new Speech department.
Auburn Players recognized as departmental organization, and presented the first musical show, Collegiately Speaking, an original play by their director Harry L. Hamilton.
The "Attic Theatre" is built in Samford Tower; it houses many studio productions, and the players use the bell tower as their dressing room. AU Players attempt to make improvements to their new space but inadvertently weaken the structure of the roof resulting in the condemnation of the space in 1926.
The Alpha Chapter of Theta Alpha Pi, the national honorary dramatic fraternity, established on campus. The first course that included drama took place at API, "Public Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation" taught by Prof. Leo E. Saidla.
Name of dramatics club changed from "The Footlights" to "The Auburn Players", and membership was open to all students.
Dramatists Club, called "The Footlights" established at Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Membership confined to men only.
Last Updated: February 20, 2017