Collections and Personal Papers:

Boar's Head Dramatic Society of Syracuse University: Civic Company

The Civic Company which existed from 1962 to 1964 at Syracuse University was a community theatre based on the original concept of Sawyer Falk, chair of the Drama Department from 1927 to 1961. In 1939 Falk wrote:


In all the plans and outlines for the Civic University Theatre, some of them dating as far back as 1930, there has always appeared, among other declarations, the very definite and assured statement: "It is incumbent upon us to encourage and develop a community theatre."

With the presentation of "Excursion," the initial production of the Syracuse Community Theatre, that declaration is made manifest.

Thus Syracuse University, through its Dramatic Activities, expresses its unequivocal sponsorship of a civic enterprise. And, by the same token, the Syracuse Community Theatre expresses its allegiance to the concept "Civic University theatre."

The mutual relationship hereby implied is indubitably a departure from accepted method. We rather hope it is. For we are not basing this particular community theatre on the schemes and blueprints of other civic theatre groups elsewhere. We are not imitating any models. We do not care to follow any other organization's lead.

In consequence, we have deliberately abandoned much of the impedimenta and paraphernalia of the now defunct, dead-and-buried "little theatre" movement. We are not interested in any sort of top-heavy organizations, subscription drives, membership fees, culture classes in this, that or the other; boards of directors, boards of trustees; etc., etc., etc.

We are interested in offering to the citizenry of Syracuse, within the framework of the Civic University Theatre, a ready opportunity for dramatic expression. We are interested that such expression evince itself in plays so well acted, so well directed, so well mounted that the people of this community with spontaneous eagerness will, as an audience, be partakers of the enterprise and believers in the concept which actuates it.

Upon these foundations we dare erect the Syracuse Community Theatre."

Gerald F. Reidenbaugh, Drama Department chair from 1961 to 1972, established the Civic Company in 1962. Four productions were done between 1962 and 1964. At the time Reidenbaugh expressed his intention for the Company writing:

"The Civic Company of Syracuse is sponsored and administered by University College and produced by the Drama Department of the University. The Company is comprised of local avocational actors who are dedicated to the furtherance of theater art in the community.

It can serve the community in many ways:

  1. As a community theater of high production standards that perform plays of verbal beauty and imagination.

  2. As a training ground for practitioners of theater who can serve the interests of other local drama production groups.

  3. As, ultimately, the basis of a resident company for The New Playhouse.

The curriculum of courses offered by the Drama Department through University College is conjunctive with, and essential to the development of the Company.

The purpose of the Civic Company is to create a theater that exits in the center of the life of the community, and achieves an orientation with it. Then, it can serve, through performance of its plays, to reaffirm the values meaningful to the community."

1962 Productions

1963 Productions

1964 Productions