The Forest Theater Guild is a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting the performing arts in our community through community theater endeavors and promoting mentoring of the theater arts. Originally founded in 1909 by Herbert Heron as the Forest Theater Society, the current organization, now known as 'Forest Theater Guild's' mission is to present quality performing arts and to foster growth and appreciation of the dramatic and allied arts among the broad community utilizing community talent with emphasis on youth.

The oldest outdoor community theater west of the Rockies. Founded in 1909, the first production at Carmel's Outdoor Forest theater was attended by 1000 people who saw "David," written by Constance Skinner and directed by the well-known professional coach, Garnet Holme from the University of California.

It was Mary Austin, author of The Arrowmaker, who first suggested the Forest Theater about 1908. She was joined by poet and dramatist, Herbert Heron and author, Michael Williams. They shared a vision of an open-air theater where plays could be produced by locals, who would also have fun doing the acting, directing, lighting, costuming and staging. With the cooperation and support of a local real estate firm, the beautiful site in the forest of pines and cypress was acquired.

Situated close to the heart of downtown Carmel, the location provided ideal acoustics within a natural amphitheater. The original stage was built on a slope between two great pines that form the proscenium arch, sixty feet wide. There wasn't a curtain and there were no electric lights. The roads and paths to the theater were lit by bonfires and two stone fireplaces on either side of the stage, which are still kindled every evening of a performance.

The theater was deeded to the City of Carmel in 1937 and became public property. When the wooded theater started to show signs of deterioration, community residents rallied to raise funds to renovate the decaying structure. The world theater community heard the appeal and Dame Judith Anderson returned to the Forest Theater stage to headline a benefit performance. Her appearance helped persuade the city to supplement the proceeds of her performance to refurbish the theater.

The spirit of the Forest Theater was born in the community and relies on the support of volunteers and benefactors. The tradition continues with the help of the City of Carmel, the citizens of Carmel and surrounding communities, and the visitors we welcome to our beautiful area — a magical collaboration that keeps the vision of the early founders alive in the 21st century.


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