On July 11, 1975, the Hangar Theatre opened with Man of La Mancha, thanks to more than a decade’s effort by impassioned citizens in Ithaca, NY. Today, the Hangar Theatre has achieved national prominence as a regional theatre producing exceptional plays and serving as a learning environment for rising theatre professionals.
Visionary leadership, community support, and challenges posed by the facility’s unusual structure all weave together in the Hangar’s history. The original conversion of a municipal airport hangar was made possible by a grant from Nelson Rockefeller and the combined efforts of the Ithaca Repertory Theatre (renamed the Hangar Theatre Company in 1978), Cornell University, Ithaca College, and the City of Ithaca. In 2010, the Hangar for All Seasons capital campaign met its $4.6 million goal for a complete building renovation, creating a year-round home for the Hangar Theatre Company as well as a venue for other national artists and local organizations. The Hangar hosts events from folk concerts to opera galas for audiences of all ages.
Arts education and training have always been central to the Hangar’s mission. In addition to its summer Mainstage and KIDDSTUFF productions and annual winter show, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the Hangar is home to the Lab Company, a nationally recognized incubator for rising actors, directors, and playwrights as well as an extensive apprenticeship and intern program in our Production Department. The Hangar’s Next Generation School of Theatre offers classes for students in grades 3-12, and Project 4 sends teaching artists into area classrooms.
The Hangar exists today because of hundreds of individuals passionate about the arts. In addition to skilled theatrical professionals, they include committed volunteers, teachers, and mentors; community businesses and professionals; and elected officials and foundations. It is a “cast list” far too long to record in full, but all have made the Hangar Theatre an essential part of the quality of life in our region.
“The Hangar belongs to Ithaca. It is one of those rare theatre companies that was started not by an artist, but by the community.” (Mark Ramont, Hangar artistic director for 1997-2000)