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Vigilante Theatre Company continues legacy of rural touring theatre

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Since at least the 1940s, rural communities in
Montana and neighboring western states have benefited
from the creativity and dedication of small
touring theatre groups who brought live performances
to places that often had no other exposure
to live theatre.
The Bozeman-based Vigilante Theatre Company is
one group continuing this tradition. They perform
original works by regional playwrights, traveling
to small towns throughout Montana, Wyoming,
the Dakotas, and Idaho, and as far as Washington,
Oregon, Colorado and Nevada.
“Many of the small local arts councils that used to
host us are struggling. Some have folded and the
rest are short on funds,” said John Hosking, Cofounder
of the theatre group.
Through interviewing contacts at their previous
performance venues, Hosking and his board members
discovered that people missed their regular
appearances, but they simply couldn’t afford to
bring the group in.
“But during hard times, that’s when people really
appreciate the arts,” Hosking said.
After recent shows, audience members have told
VTC Co-founder Rhonda Smith how great it was
just to laugh at something. “Everyone needs a little
comic relief in their lives right now,” Smith said.
“It’s also the value of coming together as a community.
Touring theatre performances have always
helped make that happen.”
Now, with help from a $5,000 grant from the Phyllis
and Dennis Washington Foundation, the VTC
will offset performance costs for the small communities,
which otherwise would be unable to afford
live theatre. The company is reviewing requests
from arts councils and other non-profit organizations
interested in partnering to support theatre
in rural, remote or otherwise underserved areas.
The group welcomes sponsorship from local and
regional businesses to help make the performances
The Vigilante Theatre Company, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
organization, has been performing original
theatrical works throughout Montana and neighboring
states since 1981. Its mission is to stimulate
and promote interest in theatre, to educate both
adults and children in the dramatic arts, to advance
the culture of the West in drama, and to bring
theatre to areas of the West which lack adequate
opportunities to enjoy live performances.

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