Founded in 1991 - and incorporated in 1993 - Pistarckle Theater’s mission is to provide quality professional theater, training, and educational programming that is designed to enlighten and entertain. The theater’s life began as an idea in a restaurant in Coral World, St. Thomas’ underwater and marine observatory. After two years of unparalleled success, the theater was invited to be in residence in Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef, a Four-Star Hotel, equipped with a thirty-five foot proscenium stage. Pistarckle continued to enjoy growing audiences drawn from the hotel visitors and the local community. However, in 1995, Hurricane Marilyn destroyed 85% of the island. Due to the lack of a suitable venue, the theater closed until 1998, reopening at the newly rebuilt Coral World. There, performances took place in an outdoor amphitheater, which sat about 120 people. Again, audiences followed and continued to support Pistarckle. In September 2017, back-to-back Category 5 Hurricanes devastated St. Thomas again. Although the Theater received physical and economic damage, - and with the spirit of 'the show must go on' - the 2017-18 Season launched with just one month's delay. Featured was an original play by St. Thomas Playwright Matthew Hamilton-Kraft - and patrons packed the house for all performances.
Since 2000, Pistarckle Theater has been in residence in a modern, fully licensed theater in Tillett Gardens on the East End of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The 3,540 square foot air-conditioned Pistarckle Theater facility includes a 120-seat theater, lobby, box office, dressing room, administrative office, and storage area. Tillett Gardens is an artistic oasis and marketplace for local Caribbean arts and crafts. Pistarckle Theater has finally found its home among other brilliant community artists.
Each season, the theater presents six full-length plays as part of its subscription season. Additional annual programming include semester-long workshops for children and teens that culminate in full-length productions. Pistarckle also has a film series that covers diverse topics, which are not necessarily mainstream choices and seek to fill a viewing gap of smaller art films.
Pistarckle Theater recognizes the great potential in the island’s cultural diversity, rich artistic heritage, and resident performers, and is determined to expand and engage a current talent base. To increase the quality of some productions, Pistarckle will look for professional directors from the mainland to lead production programming and to train artists by offering classes and workshops for teenagers.
Directors have been invited based on their career accomplishments, teaching experience, and expertise as artist/administrators. These qualities provide the theater and Virgin Islanders with leadership, resources, education and the creative dialogue. Pistarckle is determined to provide excellent training for future performing artists, create challenging productions to keep talented performers in residence, attract outside artists to engage and compliment the existing artist population, and always build a stronger audience.
For Pistarckle Theater, all productions should serve several needs for the island’s community and artists. They ideally provide:
- Theater to an island population with limited access to the performing arts.
- Educational and performance opportunities for young people.
- Mentor relationships between local artists and professional actors, directors and technicians from the mainland.
- Employment opportunities for local and mainland theater artists.
- Additional revenue to the Tutu region of the island.
- A showcase for local artists.
- Quality professional productions and programming.
- Cultural enrichment for tourists and the local population
The organization consists of a fully functioning board of directors and a professional staff. Proud of what has been accomplished, Pistarckle has produced over 70 plays serving over 50,000 audience members since it’s founding. The theater has employed 800 artists and provided 1,000 volunteers the opportunity to work alongside theater professionals.
The theater is dedicated to the vision of a new period of growth that will see the theater community establish itself as the Virgin Island’s center for professional production and theater education programming. Support from the theater community and the community-at-large is what has and will drive the theater’s growth, financial stability, quality and program planning.