Company History

Over five decades ago, quality professional theatre for the people of Arizona was just a dream. Today, ATC is recognized as one of the most dynamic theatres in the country.

Founded in Tucson by Sandy Rosenthal in 1967 as the Arizona Civic Theatre, ATC achieved professional status in 1972, when it began hiring Actors’ Equity performers on a modified League of Resident Theaters (LORT) contract. The Arizona Civic Theatre began presenting a portion of its season in Phoenix in 1978, and a year later the name was changed to the Arizona Theatre Company.

As the professional resident theatre of Arizona, ATC has been performing full seasons in both Phoenix and Tucson to a combined audience of more than 150,000 since 1983. ATC has been cited as a national model for professional performing arts institutions in consideration of how it has managed and produced full performance seasons in two cities and how it has built audience support and established fiscal stability in both communities.

One of the founding precepts of non-profit theatres such as ATC is that ticket prices will always be kept within reach of all members of the community; therefore, ticket revenues are not meant to cover total operating costs. The remaining balance must be raised through contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and through grants from government agencies.

ATC has developed an impressive national reputation and now attracts some of the nation’s most respected and talented theatre professionals. All of the staff of ATC are full-time professionals. Most visible are the actors, who can be seen not only in ATC performances but also on television, in films, and on the stages of Broadway and other regional theatres.

ATC is also renowned for the quality of its productions’ technical elements. The costume, scene, and property shops build virtually all the costumes, sets, and props used in ATC productions. Each shop is also responsible for transferring its items from the show’s originating city to the other, and maintaining those items during the show’s run in the second community. Behind the scenes, the ATC operation is kept moving by a small administrative staff of box office, accounting, fundraising, marketing, and management specialists.

In over five decades, ATC has produced more than 200 plays, from the classics of Shakespeare, Shaw, and Moliere to the works of contemporary writers such as Shepard, Stoppard, and Fugard. ATC has also committed itself to the development and presentation of new works, both on the main-stage and through special programs. This wide-ranging repertoire presents an exciting challenge to all departments at ATC – a challenge that is consistently met through the high standards that have come to be expected of the company.

ATC is actively involved in numerous educational and outreach programs in its various communities in an effort to increase public awareness of ATC and cultivate current and future audience interest and support. ATC performs in Tucson’s historic Temple of Music and Art and at the state-of-the-art Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.


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