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Our History

In the beginning...

Playcrafters history traces it's roots back to the office of Mel Hodges, Municipal Recreation Commission Superintendent Rock Island, Illinois in the 1920's, and a group known as Marshall Dramatics. Several theatre enthusiasts in the Quad Cities area of Western Illinois (Rock Island, Moline) and Eastern Iowa (Davenport, Bettendorf) had formed groups to quench their thirst for theatre by meeting to read plays.

In 1929 these enthusiasts banded together to stage their own shows under the name conceived by Hodges - Playcrafters.

Despite the onset of the depression, Playcrafters pioneers performed three shows a year in whatever facility they could get their hands on, often paying for locales and scripts with money out of their own pockets. Tickets were only 25 and 35 cents, and if people didn't have the money for tickets, Playcrafters let them in free.

For it's first 30 years Playcrafters we're reminiscent of a wandering band of minstrels, as venues varied from show to show. Performances were held on outdoor stages, in Audubon School, in the old Fort Theater (now Circa 21), at the old Pronger's Restaurant in Davenport, Iowa, in the Terrace Room of the old Plantation, and at the old Tower Restaurant in Moline, Illinois before the little theater of Rock Island High School became a semi-permanent home.

Sets or flats were constructed in Henry Carlson's Rock Island garage and in members basements, then carted along with lights, and props to wherever that nights production would be held.

A home of our own.

Three decades of wandering ended in 1958 when Dr. William Otis gave Playcrafters the dairy barn from the Deere Experimental Farm. The Barn, built in 1914, had sat unused for 25 years on the Otis property on the south side of Moline. He charged $1 a year for the land.

What was at first was considered a blessing soon turned to a feeling of bewilderment. Playcrafters had indeed inherited a "barn" in every sense of the word! Three feet of compacted manure lined the floor, and above in the loft where the theater is now located were several inches of pigeon droppings. Harvey the goat and Herman the horse, along with 350 cattle grazing the pastures surrounding the barn (now a flourishing residential neighborhood) bore witness to the determination of Playcrafters to turn this barn into one of the finest community theaters in the Midwest.

Undaunted, the thespians, led by long time General Manager Bob Sonneville, spent three months shovelling out manure to find the floor. By 1959 the barn was enclosed, and with the help of a $15,000 fund-raising drive Playcrafters new Barn Theatre was ready for it's first production - Born Yesterday - on October 5, 1960.

The seats were the armless, wooden folding chairs from the old Augustana College gym/auditorium. The sound system was a tape recorder and two rented speakers. The lights hung from a big wooden wheel and were strung along the hayloft track, wired up with 500 feet of lamp cords and controlled by 25 plywood mounted toggle switches. But Playcrafters had a home!

Significant improvements were made over the following decades including the addition of heating and air conditioning, dressing rooms, set building, costume and props storage areas. In 1965 when the Coronet Theater in Davenport was being remodelled, its upholstered theater seats replaced the original wooden chairs from Augustana College.

Bigger and better.

Playcrafters underwent its next major transformation in the early 1990's. As the City of Moline expanded around Playcrafters, the Barn Theater fell victim to modern building codes. A major renovation project was undertaken to bring the Barn "up to code," which included an addition to the building.

The renovation added new restrooms, heating & air conditioning and sprinkler systems, a new box office, and a silo containing an elevator. Various fund-raising initiatives generously supported by patrons and the community at large enabled Playcrafters to finance the cost of these improvements.

In the 21st century additional improvements continue to be made to keep our near 100 year-old Barn Theater in youthful shape. These have included new asphalt and landscaping; general repairs to the building exterior; a remodelled Lobby, Dressing Rooms and Green Room; a new lightboard and new security systems.

In April 2007, we replaced all our seating with new, contemporary chairs featuring improved accessibility for those facing mobility challenges.

In May 2017, we launched our Barn Owl series with our production of Constellations. The goal of the Barn Owl series was to creatre theatre new to the Quad Cities, and make it affordable for everyone.

In February 2018, we replaced our entire sound system. We purchased four new speakers, a sound board, and ten wireless mics to be used by the actors on stage.

Playcrafters remains a vibrant, volunteer-driven, not-for-profit community organization that continues to entertain area patrons with top notch theatre.

A new generation of thespians calls the Barn Theatre home, but we haven't forgotten our roots, nor the dedication of our founders, and Bob Sonneville - General Manager from 1950 till his passing in 1989 - whose love and hard work have given us a home in which to "trod the boards."

Our Past Seasons

Entire history of Playcrafters shows, coming soon!


A complete list of productions before we took up residence in the Barn is unknown, but here are some of the shows performed.

Affairs of State

Payment Deferred

The Alarm Clock

Philadelphia Story


Pure as the Driven Snow

Blithe Spirit

Sabrina Fair

The Great Sebastians

Separate Tables

The Happy Time

The Show-Off

Kind Sir

Someone Waiting

Ladies in Retirement

Suppressed Desires

For Love or Money

Two Blind Mice

Love from a Stranger

The Women

The Man


Oh, Men! Oh, Women - (The Plantation)

Ladies in Retirement - (Moline High School)


Born Yesterday – First Barn Performance 10/5/60 – One production, no heat in the Barn!

1961 – 1962

The Girls in 509 (The Plantation)

Angel Street (Barn)

Witness for the Prosecution

Once More with Feeling

The Tender Trap


He Done Her Wrong

If Men Played Cards Like Women

Summer ’61 Children’s Theatre

Wizard of Oz

Sleeping Beauty

Hansel and Gretel

Little Women

Cinderella of Loreland

Summer ’62 Children’s Theatre


The Plain Princess

The Red Shoes


Star Child

1962 – 1963

The Happy Time

The Glass Menagerie

Marriage Go Round

The Reclining Figure

Summer Night at the Barn

Hands Across the Sea

He Ain’t Done Right by Nell

Summer ’63 Children’s Theatre

Indian Captive

Many Moons


1963 – 1964

See How They Run

The Curious Savage

The Gang’s All Here

The Pleasure of His Company

Summer Night at the Barn

Curse You, Jack Dalton

Dreams Can Come True (We Think)

Summer ’64 Children’s Theatre

Jack and the Beanstalk

Beauty and the Beast

Alice in Wonderland

1964 – 1965

The Devil’s Advocate



Bell, Book, and Candle

Summer ’65 Children’s Theatre

My Friend the Fox

The Land of the Dragons

Hansel and Gretel

1965 - 1966

Send Me No Flowers

A Case of Libel

The Visit

Point of No Return

1966 - 1967

Bus Stop

Darkness at Noon

Country Girl

You Can’t Take It With You

Absence of a Cello

1967 - 1968

Come Blow Your Horn

Dial “M” for Murder

The Public Eye – The Private Ear (one acts)

The Heiress

Barefoot in the Park

1968 - 1969


The Typists – The Tiger (one acts)

Arms and the Man

A Streetcar Named Desire

Any Wednesday

1969 - 1970

The Seven Year Itch

A Delicate Balance

A Lion in Winter

Dark of the Moon

Critics Choice


Don’t Drink the Water

The Man Who Came to Dinner

The Grass Harp

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Third Best Sport

Summer Shows (Augustana Pitchfork Players)

Damn Yankees

Come Blow Your Horn

Pure as the Driven Snow

“Children’s Theatre”


A Thousand Clowns

A Far Country

Death of a Salesman

High Rise

George Washington Slept Here

Plaza Suite


You Know I Can’t Hear You

When the Water’s Running

I Never Sang for My Father

Uncle Harry

The Little Foxes

Butterflies are Free

Wait Until Dark



Sweet Bird of Youth

The School for Wives

A Hatful of Rain


Love in E Flat


6 Rms, Riv Vu

And Miss Reardon

Drinks a Little

The Women

The Price

Thurber Carnival


Prisoner of Second Avenue

The Night of the Iguana

Our Town

Desire Under the Elms

Teahouse of the August Moon

Play It Again, Sam


Finishing Touches


Hogan’s Goat

Ready When You Are. C.B.

Another Part of the Forest

Cactus Flower


Forty Carats

The Effect of Gamma Rays on the Man-In-The-Moon-Marigolds

The Taming of the Shrew

The Apple Tree

Inherit the Wind

How the Other Half Loves


The Odd Couple


Round and Round the Gardens – Table Manners (one acts)

Born Yesterday

The Rainmaker

Company of Wayward Saints


The Miracle Worker

The Fantastics

Blithe Spirit

Twelfth Night

The Runner Stumbles

Same Time Next Year


The Diary of Anne Frank

Chapter Two

Never Too Late

The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild

The Match Maker





On Golden Pond


I Ought to be in Pictures

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Desk Set

Come Blow Your Horn


Whose Life Is It Anyway

The Sunshine Boys

Aresenic and Old Lace

Close Ties

Second Time Around

Lunch Hour


An Almost Perfect Person

Summer and Smoke

Mary, Mary



The Owl and the Pussycat


Lovers and Other Strangers

Crimes of the Heart

You Can’t Take It With You

The Middle Ages

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

Charley’s Aunt


Play it Again, Sam

7 Keys to Baldpate

Brighton Beach Memoirs

Alone Together

Murder on the Nile

Taking Steps


Black Comedy

God’s Favorite


Painting Churches

The Miser

Angel Street


The Nerd

The Good Doctor

Special Occasions

The Circle

Everybody Loves Opal

Social Security


Broadway Bound

Any Number Can Die

Mass Appeal

Funny Valentines

Murder at the Howard Johnson’s

Steel Magnolias


Any Wednesday

Catch Me If You Can

First Night

Breakfast With Les and Bess

Suite Hearts



Driving Miss Daisy

Trapped By A Treacherous Twin

The Orphans

Three Murders and It’s Only Monday

Lend Me a Tenor

The Boys Next Door




The Gin Game

Lettuce and Lovage

The Cemetary Club

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940


The Odd Couples

The Uninvited

Talley’s Folley

A Wind Between the Houses

I Hate Hamlet

Crossing Delaney


I’m Not Rappaport

Shadow Lands

Greater Tuna

Bleacher Bums

Barefoot in the Park

The Girl in the Freudian Slip


Not Now, Daring



The Crucible

Keep Your Spirits Up

Last of the Red Hot Lovers


If It’s Monday, It Must Be Murder

Witness for the Prosecution

Beau Jest

Noises Off!

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Bus Stop


Late 1997

Tony and Tina’s Wedding (The Villa)


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

The Lion in Winter

Mixed Emotions

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

Inherit the Wind

A Tuna Xmas

Fundraising Shows

Special Valentine’s Day “Reprise”

Tony and Tina’s Wedding (The Villa)

Lights, Camera, Die (The Abbey)

Frosty Follies (The Barn)


Move Over, Mrs. Markham

Murder Among Friends

Moon Over Buffalo

Cheaper By the Dozen

The Foreigner

Done to Death

Fundraising Shows

Lights! Camera! Die! (The Abbey)

Tony and Tina’s Wedding (Lady Luck)


Bedroom Farce

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

Aresenic and Old Lace

Hail to the Chief

Jest a Second

A Dicken’s Christmas Carol – A Traveling Travesty in Two Acts




Death of a Salesman

A Thousand Clowns

Wait Until Dark

The Sisters Rosenweig



Ten Little Indians (Now known as ‘And Then There Were None’)

Harold and Maude

Funny Money

A Shot in the Dark

Miracle on 34th Street


Love Letters


Communicating Doors

Sly Fox


Best Christmas Pageant Ever


Woman in Black

Born Yesterday


The Hobbit

Laugher on the 23rd Floor

A Christmas Story


Grace and Glorie

Murder in Green Meadows

Altar Call

Enchanted April

The Nerd

It’s a Wonderful Life


Over the River and Through the Woods

Rounding Third

Sweet and Hot

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Out of Sight, Out of Murder

Our Town


Strangers on a Train

Catfish Moon

Swinging on a Star

Flaming Idiots


Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas

2008 - Our Eightieth Season

The Trip to Bountiful

Anybody for Murder

Twelve Angry Men

Crimes of the Heart

Problems, Promises

Anne of Green Gables

Holiday Brass Band



Murder at Howard Johnsons

The Children’s Hour

A Raisin in the Sun

See How They Run

Papa’s Angels

Holiday Brass Band


Moon Over Buffalo

The O’Connor Girls

Any Number Can Die


Hard to Believe

Treasure Island


Lend Me a Tenor

Visiting Mr. Green

Rehearsal for Murder

Lesson Before Dying

Make Me a Cowboy

Leaving Iowa


Anne of Avonlea

If it’s Monday this must be Murder

Titanic Aftermath


The 39 Steps

The Christmas Express


Ghost of a Chance

Blues for an Alabama Sky

The Trouble with Cats

The Fox on the Fairway


The Miracle Worker


Of Mice and Men

The Secret Garden

Dinner with Friends

Second Samuel

Marrying Terry

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus


Barely Heirs

The 13th of Paris

Driving Miss Daisy

The Red Velvet Cake Wars


The Game’s Afoot


Arsenic & Old Lace

Mama Won’t Fly

A Woman Called Truth

On Golden Pond


Stocking Stuffer’s


Steel Magnolias



Constellations - Barn Owl Series (First Barn Owl production)

Dixie Swim Club

Good People - Barn Owl Series

And Then There Were None

Fat Pig - Barn Owl Series

Miracle on 34th Street


The Woman in Black


The Christians - Barn Owl Series

Bingo! The Musical!

Some Girl(s) - Barn Owl Series

Clybourne Park

A Number - Barn Owl Series

Tuesdays with Morrie

Speech and Debate - Barn Owl Series

The Laramie Project - Special Presentation (20th Anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s Death)

A Wrinkle in Time

2019 - Our Ninetieth Season

(a work in progress)

Stupid F*cking Bird - Barn Owl Series

The Crucible

Marie and Rosetta - Barn Owl Series

Avenue Q

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Barn Owl Series

Something Intangible

She Kills Monsters - Barn Owl Series

The Wolves

4000 Miles - Barn Owl Series

Prescription: Murder

Playcrafters (1929-2021)

Playcrafters has been producing community theatre in the Quad Cities since 1929, one of the oldest surviving theatre companies in the area.


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