Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts
For more than 40 years PCPA Theaterfest has been presenting exemplary theatre and providing excellent training with a resident company of theatre professionals. Begun in the summer of 1964, founder Donovan Marley laid the ground work for a year-round professional theatre company. PCPA remains the only resident professional company on the Central Coast producing consistent quality entertainment for the community while training thousands of actors and theatre technicians for a career in theatre. The first company consisted of twenty-one actors, calling themselves the Platform Players. They converted an old barracks building into the Interim Theatre with seating for 100. The first production was A Man for All Seasons and enthusiastic standing-room only audiences packed all 10 performances.
The 1965-66 season was heralded as a season of firsts for the Interim Theatre. Its first musical, The Fantasticks, the first Theatre Wagon to begin its circuit of schools with a production of The Emperor\'s New Clothes, the first starring role in an Interim Theatre production for Rosalind Pearlman whose professional experience includes acting, directing and teaching drama, and the first professionally choreographed show Romeo and Juliet by Agnes Grogan who had studied and worked with Martha Graham. Grogan was also a featured dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein\'s Oklahoma! on Broadway.
In 1967 the conservatory began to accept students from outside the Allan Hancock College district and a technical program for sets, properties and costume construction was established adding new professional staff members.
Recognizing the cultural and economic benefits of a theatre, Santa Maria voters approved a school bond in 1965 which included $1-million to build the Marian Theatre, named after Marian Hancock.
Plans for the new theatre were on the drawing board in 1966. When completed, the theatre could seat 448 patrons around a thrust stage, based on Minnesota\'s Guthrie Theatre. Doors opened on July 10, 1968 with a production of Camelot featuring Laird Williamson as Lancelot.
In 1971 PCPA held its first performance of Hamlet in Solvang\'s Hans Christian Andersen Park. Support grew quickly through the community and the Theaterfest Summer repertory season was in full swing in the newly built outdoor Festival Theatre in 1974. (see Solvang Theaterfest) During these early years, audiences witnessed the emergence and growth of some of today\'s biggest names in the entertainment field including Robin Williams, Kathy Lloyd, Belita Moreno, Mercedes Ruehl, Kelly McGillis, Boyd Gaines, Robert Blackman, and Kathy Bates.
In November 1992, the Severson Theatre was inaugurated. This intimate and flexible space has been the home for classic, contemporary and musical productions as varied as Julius Caesar, Skylight, The Last Five Years, Arcadia, Oh Coward!, Master Class, Someone Who\'ll Watch Over Me, Rounding Third, Oleanna, Measure for Measure, The Turn of the Screw, Little Women and PCPA\'s reading series InterPlay. These absorbing and enlightening plays, alongside the rest of each season\'s offerings, support PCPA\'s commitment to providing the greatest possible variety in the learning environment and enjoyment in the play-going experience.
The company of nearly 50 theatre professionals is a team dedicated to advancing the art of theatre from the studio to the stage. When you enjoy a production at PCPA today, you\'re watching the stars of tomorrow.
Today, PCPA continues its legacy as a professional conservatory theatre. Nearly 100 students are trained each semester in acting and technical theatre. The basic premise of training artists for the theatre -- as students of the craft and apprentices in a company of working practitioners -- is as vital today as it has been through history. The tradition of the master craftsperson passing on their knowledge through daily practice of the art is as ancient as the arts themselves. In this tradition we work from experience to knowledge, rather than just from knowledge to experience - following the observation that \"in the end we retain from our studies only that which we practically apply\" (Goethe). We must do, so that we can know. This learning relationship doesn\'t merely benefit the student. When the master and the apprentice \"practice\" together, learning takes place for both and the art form is enhanced by their shared discovery.