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Baltimore’s Arena Players is the oldest continually performing and historically African-American community theater in the United States. From its humble beginnings in 1953, by a small aspiring group of ambitious fledgling actors, Arena Players has a proud history of community service and outstanding dramatic achievements.

This volunteer organization has grown significantly over the years.  Participants in Arena Players programming come from all walks of life and a variety of vocations.

In 1965 Arena Players initiated its annual banquet for the presentation of awards to persons responsible for excellence in the perpetuation of the performing arts.  These awards have gone to members as well as non-members of local and national vintage.  Recipients of awards and honors have included Langston Hughes, Cab Calloway, Ed Bullins, Richard Long, Ellen Stewart, Edward J. Golden, Lola Miller, Harvey Denmark, Elbert Wilson, Joseph Wilson, Mary Carter Smith, Irv Turner, Damon Evans, Catherine Adams, and Donald Evans.

Arena Players believes:

That the theater arts have a unique capability to regenerate the human spirit and that no other art form so totally embraces the whole being or so enriches one’s self awareness and relationship to others.
That Arena Players is a community theater founded and dependent upon the interactions of people who combine their knowledge, interest, and pursuit of effort to perpetuate the organization. Herein is an opportunity for the development and display of the talents, technical skills, and crafts of all who would pursue the theater arts as a career, a vocation, or audience.
That involvement in Arena Players has a reciprocal value in that experiences are self rewarding.
That the membership is comprised of dues-paying volunteers who form a pool of people interested in all phases of theater and play production.
That it is the responsibility of the individual members to strive to develop their talents as a ready source for the good of the organization and that the corporation has the responsibility of facilitating the development of the talents of its members.
That purpose and integrity demands that efforts be to and through those who are affiliated with corporation by membership, and that dispensations be granted to others only when all resources of the membership have been reviewed and the corporation is found wanting.
That Arena Players is a service organization to the good of the community, its cultural growth, and well being.
That Arena Players should provide the community with a physical facility wherein all who are interested may avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in the theater arts.

Organizer and beneficiary

Felicia Deneane Chapple
Baltimore, MD
Charlene Williamson

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