From the early 1800’s until the 1920’s, a kind of theater evolved that had never been seen before. It did not fit the classic definitions of either drama or comedy, and some enterprising critic coined the word “melodrama” as a description of this new kind of theatre. A perfect blend of music (melody) and drama.
On any given Saturday night (and most Fridays) in Coquille between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can experience a trip down memory lane by attending the Sawdust Theatre. The performers refer to themselves as Sawdusters.
Sawdusters, all volunteers, come from many walks of life; teachers, lawyers, homemakers, merchants, and many others comprise the casts and crews. The pleasure of working together and performing for an audience is payment enough for their time and effort. These otherwise sane people practice for months memorizing scripts and rehearsing songs and dance steps for the summer-long performances.
Each play character is double cast so all summer long a variety of combinations perform. Each olio performer must master every part of every olio act. The play and olio casts, the audience and the chemistry between them, makes each show a new experience.
An all-consuming fire on July 19, 1994 destroyed the 28-year home of the Sawdust Theatre. Through find-raisers, civic and corporate donations, as well as uncounted professional and volunteer hours, we built our beautiful new Sawdust Theatre, opening in the 2000 season.
The Sawdust Theatre has been visited by governors, senators, and people from all over the world. Audience participation (Boo, Hiss, Ahh) is what makes the theatre unique and contributes to making it one of the finest and oldest melodrama traditions in the western United States.
Once you have been here you will want to come back again and again!