Theater League Gets Its Act Together

The League of Cincinnati Theatres was established in 1999 to strengthen, nurture and promote local theater companies.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:11 pm

The League of Cincinnati Theatres was established in 1999 to strengthen, nurture and promote local theater companies. Back then, there was precious little interaction between our theaters; each operated pretty much on its own little island. In 2015 things have changed. We now have a true theater “community,” with companies collaborating and cross-pollinating. Actors and directors often work on one another’s stages. LCT has encouraged that evolution by nurturing communication and shared resources.

In 2015, LCT is rethinking and redefining the role it plays, identifying new ways to help our local theaters in the 21st century, particularly in promotion and professional development. The organization’s new president, Joshua Steele, is spearheading the effort, working with the leaders of almost all of our professional and university theaters. Together they have conceived a new operating model focused on serving and advancing local professional theater producers while providing LCT’s support to a broader base of participants.

Going forward, the focus will be on companies that pay staff and actors, produce a full season of theater and operate within the I-275 beltway. Core members are Cincinnati Landmark Productions (Covedale Center and Incline Theater), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Clifton Performance Theatre (Clifton Players and Untethered Theater), Diogenes Theatre Company, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Falcon Theater, Know Theatre, New Edgecliff Theatre and The Carnegie. A second tier of members will serve programs at educational institutions such as the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and Northern Kentucky University. A third set of affiliate members will include other theater organizations such as Broadway in Cincinnati, Dayton’s Human Race Theatre Company, Miami University and others.

A big innovation for the 2015-2016 season will be LCT’s thoroughly revamped program of critiquing theater productions. Now called Stage Insights, the new initiative is working to assemble a roster of insightful writers to write previews and reviews for each production by core theaters and selected productions at affiliated theaters. Three writers will be assigned to each theater’s season to promote and critique each show. One team member will work with the theater to produce a promotional piece. LCT will post this and two reviews on its website and via social media. The intention is to help spread the word about shows staged by member companies.

LCT is currently recruiting writers for Stage Insights. The application deadline is July 18. A full description of how the program will work is available at, and the application form is simple and straightforward. This is a serious and important step forward for LCT, and knowledgeable theater enthusiasts are encouraged to apply.

Since the demise of the CEAs and the Acclaims, Cincinnati has been without a public-facing theater awards program for several years, so starting in the summer of 2016, LCT plans to produce a public event to celebrate achievements of the previous season and promote upcoming shows. This will not be a formal awards program with competing nominees; instead, the concept is an opportunity to single out remarkable performances and noteworthy productions at specific theaters — offering serious recommendations and lighthearted recollections of high points over the preceding months.

LCT has also rethought an awards program for young performers. In the past, Rising Star awards were given to promising college students who used the funds for the next step in their careers, typically in another city. The new “Cincinnati Theater Fellowship” program will offer competitive annual awards that will be shared by a theater and an individual in a season-long partnership.

Under its new structure, LCT will also establish an individual membership program for interested theatergoers to broaden awareness and nurture theater patronage. This will include PlayDates, a series of behind-the-scenes experiences at different local theaters, and PlayReads, discussions about selected scripts, led by knowledgeable speakers. Additional anticipated benefits include ticket discounts at member theaters and invitations to LCT events.

LCT is on a commendable course, designed to strengthen theater in Cincinnati. If you’re a theater lover and a good writer, I urge you to consider joining the Stage Insights team.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]