The Kalita Humphreys Theatre is a historic performance space located in Dallas, Texas. This space was designed and built by esteemed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This space was the only theatre that Wright ever created, and is known as one of the last buildings that he ever designed in his career. It was built in 1959 as a performance space for the company Dallas Theatre Center, but since then that company has moved to a new space. It is now the home of Uptown Players, as well as a performance space for any other regional companies that wish to rent out this iconic landmark.
The theatre company, Dallas Theatre Center, approached Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955 in hopes to employ this infamous architect to design their home base. Though he had many un-built designs for various theoretical theatrical venues, the Kalita Humphreys would become his first fully constructed and realized theatrical space. A big stylistic feature that distinguished Wrights design, was the dismissal of the traditional proscenium arch, which had become the standard by this point. Instead, Wright opted to join the audience and performers together in “one unified space.” This was accomplished through the integration of a circular stage with a revolving center platform, which until now had not been seen in the design of a theatre. The audience would somewhat surround the stage in an intimate layout of only 11 rows of seating. This placed the actors in a much closer proximity to the audience, which was quite atypical for the time,
Construction on this historical landmark began in 1955, and took approximately 4 years to complete. Unfortunately, Wright died 9 months before he could see this project be completed. The total cost of this project was just over 1 million dollars. This sounds like a lot, but in comparison to the cost of construction today, is actually quite low. The Kalita Humphreys Theatre officially opened for business on December 27th, 1959. Their first fully-mounted production in their new home was Thomas Wolfe’s “Of Time and The River.”
The Kalita Humphreys Theatre got its name from a somewhat tragic set of circumstances. Kalita Humphreys was the name of a young actress that worked with resident director of the Dallas Theatre Center, Paul Baker. Humphreys died in a plane crash in 1954, and 120,000 dollars was donated to fund this theatre as a memorial.