Just up the road from Hollister Ranch, the outdoor PCPA Theater in Solvang has summertime presentations that entertain visitors to this unique venue. Attendees bring along coats and blankets to adjust to the cooling temperatures as the daytime warmth dissolves into the chill of a summer evening. Intermission allows for those in attendance to enjoy a locally baked cookie and/or a glass of local, Santa Ynez Valley, wine. At the end of a play, the actors mingle amongst the audience members to reflect on the performance. Its all very small-townish.
For over 50 years PCPA has been presenting exemplary theatre and providing excellent training with a resident company of theatre professionals. From its beginnings in the fall of 1964 and first summer season in 1965, founder Donovan Marley laid the ground work for a year-round professional theatre company, following the insightful impulse of Allan Hancock College President Walter Conrad, “Because we are geographically isolated from population centers where artistic experiences are readily available to our students and our college patrons, we have an obligation to develop such experiences on this campus.” 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.
Ultimately, the history of PCPA is marked in the force of life invested by generations of artists as a valuable feature of community life here on the California Central Coast. The building up of a community, and an American culture, enriched and illuminated by art made by well-trained artists has always been at the heart of the artistic and educational enterprise. The company of over 50 theatre professionals is a team dedicated to enhancing community life and advancing the art of theatre from the studio to the stage. Over 100 students are trained each semester in acting and technical theatre. 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).
PCPA remains the only resident professional company on the Central Coast and the only training program of its kind offered at a community college -- producing exemplary artistic experiences for the community while preparing thousands of actors and theatre technicians for a career in theatre. You can enjoy a production at PCPA today, with the deeper enjoyment that you're glimpsing the seeds of a richer tomorrow.