Reno Little Theater Records

Identifier: NC277

Scope and Contents

The Reno Little Theater Records date from 1935-1989 and include administrative, legal, architectural, financial, and play production materials. Series 1, Administration, appear to be relatively complete and include minutes of board meetings, correspondence, financial reports (which are sometimes duplicated in the financial series), newsletters, articles of incorporation, bylaws, contracts, attendance records, legal documents, photographs, grant applications and reports, newspaper clippings about RLT (not about specific plays), and architectural drawings of the RLT building on Sierra Street. Although there are some financial records in Series 1, there is also a separate series (Series 2) which includes financial reports and audits, ledger sheets and books, and promissory notes for loans from individuals and banks.

Series 3, the largest series of the collection includes records of specific plays performed on the main stage and in the Circlet Theater (later, Semenza Circle Theater) between 1935 and 1989. Included in this series are scripts, often annotated; programs; photographs of scenes of plays and individual actors; newspaper clippings, which may include both advertisements and critiques; and audio tapes of performances. In several instances where musicals were performed, sheet music is also present.

Records of some individual plays are split between Series 3 and the scrapbooks in Series 5. These scrapbooks are arranged by theater season and include annotated photographs, newspaper clippings, and programs.

Series 4, Children's or Storybook Theaters, contains memorabilia from children's plays and material from plays produced by traveling production companies from other regions. Generally there are fewer materials for children's production than for the main stage, and not all productions are represented.


  • 1935-1995


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Administrative History

The Reno Little Theatre (RLT) is Nevada oldest community theater. RLT was established in 1935 by charter members Evelyn Brussard, Blythe Bulmer, Dick Hillman, Randall Ross, Grace Semenza, Margaret Bankofier, Ray Frolick, Doris Shaver, and William C. Miller. The first play was produced at the University of Nevada, Reno Education Auditorium in October 1935; Ed Semenza was the first director of RLT and the guiding force behind the organization's success for more than thirty years. In 1941, RLT purchased Dania Hall on Sierra and Seventh Streets and, with community funding and volunteer labor, remodeled the building and finished the interior as a theater. The original building was remodeled several times over five decades; in January 2012 RLT opened its doors at a new permanent home designed for RLT in a theater building on Pueblo Street and Wells.

Over the years, RLT has offered more than just plays on-stage. The Theater also initiated adult and grammar school drama classes, play-writing competitions, and a children's theater. The Circlet (later Semenza Circlet) Theater began in 1954 in the basement of the RLT building and was used to stage plays of a more experimental nature; after the move to Wells these experimental shows were part of a series called Off-Off Wells or the Fringe. RLT has also taken its productions off the main stage and into parks in Reno and into other Nevada communities. The theater offers a variety of plays each season (which runs from August to July): comedy, mystery, suspense, and drama.


23 Linear Feet (30 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Organizational records of Reno Little Theater community theater include constitution, certificate of incorporation, minutes of board of directors' meetings, correspondence, publicity, photos, architectural drawings, and attendance records. Financial documents include statements, promissory notes, and bank notes. Plays include scripts, programs, photos, and publicity. Dates range from 1935-1989.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Administration; 2) Financial Records; 3) Plays; 4) Children's Theater; 5) Scrapbooks; 6) Indexes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in several increments, first in February 1966 by the Board of Directors of the RLT. Subsequent donations from Caryn R. M. Hawman and David Hettich.

Related Materials

For a more detailed history of the RLT, consult the oral history of Ed Semenza, conducted by the Oral History Program of the University of Nevada, Reno.


Guide to the Reno Little Theater Records
Susan Searcy
November 23, 1992
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)