Bankside Rep began as an idea by a group of like-minded theatre directors, actors, and educators many years ago. The desire was to start a professional theatre company in the Riverbend region of Illinois – a place where these artists could produce thought-provoking work that would also entertain, uplift, and inspire.
In 2015 the six founding members began talks with Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois. Jacoby quickly took the group under its wing, providing a theatre home for the company. By May of 2015 Bankside Repertory Theatre Company had officially formed and was in residence at Jacoby.
The company started out by producing a series of one-act plays in the summer, each performed before one of Jacoby’s concerts. Then, in October the company began its official first season, producing Call Me Waldo: A Transcendental Comedy by Rob Ackerman, directed by Trish Brown. Waldo was followed by an original work, A Dickens of a Tale, written and directed by Geoff Callaway. Bankside rounded out its first season with Love Letters by A.R. Gurney directed by Caleb King, and closed with an evening of one-acts headlined by Hidden In This Picture by Aaron Sorkin.
Season 2 opened with Aaron Posner's Who Am I This Time? And Other Conundrums of Love, directed by Caleb King. Our Christmas show, Silent Night, Holy Noely, was another original work written and directed by Geoff Callaway. Our final play of the season was August Strindberg's classic, Miss Julie, adapted by Craig Lucas and directed by Sue Ellen Coughtry.
Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice opened season 3, directed by Caleb King. In December, John O'Hagan brought to life Justin Butcher's one-man show, The Devil's Passion (which was later presented at the St Louis Fringe Festival). Bankside proudly presented a public reading of a new play by Liesle Ehmke, Leaves in the Wind. Our final play was local playwright's Deanna Jent's heartfelt Falling, directed by Sue Ellen Coughtry.
Season 4 started off with us partnering with Insight Theatre for a joint production of Silent Sky, written by Lauren Gunderson. In December we presented It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, directed by Caleb King.
In season 5, despite COVID restrictions, we successfully produced Ginna Hoben's The Twelve Dates of Christmas through live-streaming, starring Carolina Queiroz Couto and directed by John O'Hagan.
Season 6 included a remounting of our original Christmas favorite A Dickens of a Tale featuring company members and familiar local actors. June saw the premiere of a new play co-produced with Principia College, We.The.People which was written and directed by Geoff Callaway.
In seasons 7 and 8, we began venturing in new creative directions – podcasts! Our first podcast was an adaptation of A Dickens of a Tale in December 2023. You can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts as well as on the home page of this website. Watch for more podcasts coming this season!
All of us at Bankside are so grateful to be a part of Jacoby Arts Center and the Alton Community. Thanks for being a part of our journey!