Hangar Theatre History Timeline

From 1934-Present

1934       A new municipal airport hangar—site of today’s Hangar Theatre—opens.


1964       Center for the Arts at Ithaca (CAI) founded, with ambitious plan to create a $5 million performing arts center in Cass Park. The Rockefeller family provides an initial planning grant.


1966     Ithaca municipal airport closes; hangar is shuttered.


1969       Original plan for the arts center abandoned due to funding shortfall.


1970       Cornell University and Ithaca College theatre departments establish the Ithaca Repertory Theatre (IRT).


1973       Led by Tom Niederkorn, CAI gets permission from Nelson Rockefeller to use $100K grant to convert the hangar into a theatre.


1974       Architect Robert Manning Mueller creates design for the theatre.


1975       On July 11, curtain rises for IRT’s Man of La Mancha, the Hangar’s first production.


1978       IRT is renamed the Hangar Theatre Company.

PROPS, the Hangar’s volunteer corps, is formed.


1982       Robert Moss, noted founder of NYC’s Playwrights Horizons, becomes artistic director.

New Directors program and Next Generation School of Acting for Youth Theatre start.


1983       Wedge series of productions directed by New Directors fellows begins.


1984       The Hangar Theatre Company becomes independent from Cornell and Ithaca College;

both institutions continue to provide important support.

Hangar’s professional training expands to include acting and production, forming the “Second Company,” forerunner of the Lab Company.


1985       KIDDSTUFF premieres as a Saturday children’s series produced by the Second Company.

50th Mainstage production: Agnes of God.


1986       $50K raised for required fire and building code renovations, so the Mainstage season can go on.

New York State Natural Heritage Trust awards grant to construct a set and costume shop.


1987       Carol True Palmer, an Ithaca native with NYC theatre experience, hired as first managing director.


1989       NYC’s Drama League and the Hangar join together to create a new summer directing program.

PROPS volunteer corps grows to 163 members, providing over 4000 hours of volunteer time.


1990       The Second Company is renamed “The Lab Company.”


1991       Major cut in state funding of the arts due to recession and state budget.


1992       Number of Hangar “Friends” and corporate sponsor increase.


1993       Appeal made for $13K for repairs after “a flood that would sweep Noah away.”


1994       Lisa Bushlow (who began as an intern in 1989) named first-ever education director.

Artists-in-the-Schools program launched.

100th Mainstage production: Falsettos.


1995       School Tours program launched, bringing professional theatre to schools throughout NYS.

20th anniversary capital campaign exceeds goal, raises more than $270K for improvements.


1997       Hangar supports new works with guest playwright residencies.


1998       Received a $100K grant from NYSCA to launch the Empire State Partnership (ESP) program that became Project 4, where 4th graders write and perform original plays.


2000       Lisa Bushlow becomes executive director; Kevin Moriarty, an alumnus of the Drama League directing program, becomes artistic director.


2001       New Play Festival introduced.


2002       Hangar Theatre receives its first NEA grant for Artists in the Schools.


2004       30th anniversary season includes the 150th Mainstage production, Indoor/Outdoor, centerpiece of the New Play Festival.


2005       Pay What You Can program created.


2006       Next Generation program reshaped into three distinct levels: theatre camp, grades 3-5; theatre school, grades 6-8; theatre lab, high school.


2010       Capital campaign “A Hangar for All Seasons” achieves $4.6 million goal, $4 million for renovation, and $600K for the endowment.  Renovated theatre opens to the public in June.

CabarETC, series of vocalists and musicians outside summer season, begins.


2012       The Prologue series, pre-show discussions led by Drama League fellows, start.

Project 4: Artists in Schools opportunities extended to all ICSD, Newfield, Trumansburg & Lansing elementary schools.

Design Fellows program begins.


2013       Board and staff create the 2013-2018 strategic plan.

First spring “Break-a-Leg” program offered; school tours end.


2014       Hangar celebrates its 40th season.

200th Mainstage production: Other Desert Cities.

Partnership with DSP Shows increases year-round community use of the theatre.


2015       Michael Barakiva, Lab Company alumnus, joins as interim artistic director.


2016       Barakiva becomes first full-time, in-residence artistic director.

Artist-in-Residence series (AIRS) launches.

Local writer Aoise Stratford commissioned to do new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.


2017       Hangar presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in December.

The Wedge series takes up residency at the Cherry Artspace, Ithaca’s newest theatre.

Two-week summer “Break-a-Leg” added to education program.

CabarETC series ends, replaced by DSP Shows.


2018       MaryBeth Bunge becomes managing director after serving as Interim 10/2017-2/2018; she previously served as development director during the “Hangar for All Seasons” campaign.


2020 COVID-19 Pandemic starts, all programming moves online for the 2020 summer season


2021 The outdoor space is constructed behind the theater, all 2021 programming happens outdoors

Lab Company alumna Shirley Serotsky becomes Artistic Director, after having served as Associate Artistic Director & Education Director from September 2019 – October 2020 and interim Artistic Director from October 2020 – February 2021.


2022 The indoor theater space re-opens as COVID-19 vaccines become more widespread, 2022 season is a combination of indoor and outdoor performances


2023 The Hangar attempts to right-size its season and programming for an audience that has decreased during the pandemic