About Us

Festival Playhouse is the name of Kalamazoo College's Theatre Company. We produce 3 mainstage shows a year, plus we have 1-2 Senior Performance Series (or SPS) shows every year that feature work created by our talented students. 


Our History

Festival Playhouse has a long and proud history. We began in the mid 20th century as a summer stock theatre program that hired professional actors and artists to come work with the students during the summer months. We have always focused on theatre as an educational tool. Before Dalton and The Playhouse were built, performances used to be staged on the top floor of Bowen Hall, a building that used to be located where the Hicks Student Center now stands. 

In the mid-1970's our main theatre, The Playhouse was built. The Playhouse was Michigan's first thrust stage theatre, meaning the stage was shaped in a way that placed the audience on three sides. It was modeled after the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and the Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario. From then on, our founding mother, Nelda Balch, began staging all mainstage shows in The Playhouse. After Nelda retired, the theatre was renamed in her honor. We have staged hundreds of shows on that Nelda K. Balch stage. We also stage productions in our black box theatre, The Dungeon, as well as the college's auditorium, The Dorothy U. Dalton Theatre. 


Please visit Kalamazoo College's Archives Page for more information about the history of the theatre arts department.