The Potomac Playmakers: 90 Years of Community TheatRE By Chris Brewer
THE YEAR WAS 1926. Calvin Coolidge was in the middle of his first elected term as President. It had been only six years since the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. A number of entertainers who would become luminaries of stage and screen were born that year, including Jerry Lewis, Cloris Leachman, Andy Griffith, Mel Brooks and Marilyn Monroe. In Hagerstown, Maryland, the Women’s Club Inc., which had been founded a few years earlier, in 1921, was making its own entertainment news. At the Women’s Club Board of Directors meeting in November 1926, members of the club’s Dramatic Department outlined a plan for a new community theatre group, and asked for — among other things — approval to rename the organization The Potomac Playmakers.
The driving force behind the plan, and its subsequent acceptance, was Mary Lemist Titcomb, nationally recognized for her work with public libraries and founder of the bookmobile concept. On November 11 and 12, 1926, The Potomac Playmakers debuted their first show, “The Boomerang,” a popular romantic comedy of the day, written by Winchell Smith and Victor Mapes. The Playmakers’ 90 years of longevity mark them as one of the nation’s oldest, continuously running, all-volunteer, non-profit community theatre companies. Through the efforts of hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteers, The Playmakers have carved a rich history in Washington County and the tri-state area. They’ve survived a fire, the Great Depression and a World War‚ and continue to deliver to audiences live theater close
Photo: Andrew King. 34 | fluent