The mission of the Omaha Community Playhouse is to enhance quality of life through live theatre, professional touring, and arts education. We are dedicated to enriching the lives of audiences and participants through entertainment, thought-provoking stories and first-hand involvement.
As one of the oldest arts organizations in the area, OCP is a cornerstone of the Omaha arts community. Founded in 1924, OCP was created as part of the nation’s Little Theatre movement. In 1928, OCP’s first theatre was opened at 40th and Davenport and remained the Playhouse’s home for over 30 years. OCP’s current home at 6915 Cass Street opened in 1959 with an expansion in 1986 due to growth and an interest in increased program offerings. In addition, the Playhouse is nationally known for its production of “A Christmas Carol”, which was adapted by long-time Playhouse Director Charles Jones. The production has now toured the country and played the OCP mainstage for over 40 years.
Today, OCP is one of the largest non-profit community theatres in the nation, and while we have begun to compensate performers and crew, our dedication to and focus on community-based art and participation will not change. At 97 years-old, OCP has a rich history that crosses generations. Hundreds of thousands of community members have created memories in our facilities over the years and multiple generations within a family have performed onstage together. Further, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it is thanks to the generous support of our community – individuals, corporations, and foundations – that we are able to continue our nearly 100-year legacy today.
Value 1: Inclusivity
Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, we are committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which ALL community members feel a sense of belonging, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors.
Value 2: Artistic and Educational Impact
We believe that theatre is a communal and educational experience – on stage, behind the scenes and in the classroom. Theatre breaks down barriers, provokes empathy, creates unbreakable bonds and imparts important life skills through stage skills for people of all ages.
Value 3: Excellence
We are committed to achieving the highest standards of production quality through innovation, professional development, community collaborations and the latest industry standards.
Value 4: Stewardship
We are committed to honoring OCP’s rich institutional history, while evolving and growing in a fiscally responsible way in order to meet the changing needs and interests of the entire community we serve and represent.
Value 5: Community
We believe in creating theatre for the community, by the community and as a representative of the community. We value the contributions of all who dedicate their time to creating quality theatre.
The Playhouse features two state-of-the-art performance spaces — the 558-seat Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre and the intimate Howard Drew Theatre. Added in 1986, the Howard Drew Theatre is a “black box” theatre, which allows for more progressive productions. Depending on the production’s specific scenic/stage requirements, the Howard Drew Theatre’s flexible risers allow for audiences of between 200 and 230.
Each of the five Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre productions run for approximately one month, with five performances per week. The productions in the Howard Drew Theatre run for approximately one month with four performances per week.
For decades the Omaha Community Playhouse has been committed to providing educational opportunities through the performing arts. We offer a variety of classes for adults and children, plus workshops, residencies, study materials, tours and special events. Our Education & Outreach Department is constantly working to develop new ways to engage the community in education through the fine arts.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility
OCP will be a creative home for everyone. We will use theater to break down barriers rather than to build them up. We will listen to those who have been systematically oppressed and excluded in order to better serve our community.
As a community-based theatre, it is critical that we also specifically recognize the racial inequities and injustices affecting our community and our theatre industry. We must take this time to truly listen and learn, reflect on our own role in this work, acknowledge that we can and must do better and take actionable steps to ensure we are truly representing and reflecting our full community — on our stages, in the audience and among our staff and board. Only then can we fully use the powerful platform of theatre to help promote equity and change.
Nebraska Theatre Caravan
The Nebraska Theatre Caravan, the professional touring wing of the Playhouse, has carried the Playhouse banner to more than 160 communities in Nebraska and to more than 600 communities in 49 U.S. states and four provinces in Canada. The Company has served as arts ambassadors from Omaha to the nation and has gained a national reputation for quality programming for 30 years.