Mission & Purpose
The mission of Lantern Theater Company is to produce plays that investigate and illuminate what is essential in the human spirit and the spirit of the times. We seek to be a vibrant, contributing member of our community, exposing audiences to great theater, inviting participation in dialogue and discussion, and engaging audience members about artistic and social issues.
We will expand our role in Philadelphia through broader and deeper engagement with our artists, our audience, and our community. Our education programs will continue to draw from our expertise in dramatic and literary texts and in theatrical language and techniques to enrich learning in the classroom and beyond.
Lantern Theater Company is committed to an authentic and intimate exploration of the human spirit in our choice of classic, modern, and original works. Our approach is characterized by rigorous analysis of language and narrative. Our play selection reflects an unwavering commitment to the essentials of great drama – plot, dialogue, and character development – and we are inspired by our need to expand our creative skills and to try new theatrical techniques. We seek to create an environment where theater artists grow and thrive professionally.
We are committed to creating innovative productions of plays that embrace intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual themes on a grand scale, all within the intimate space of our theater. We contend that great plays, well performed, make a difference in the lives of the people who see them. We believe that a theater needs to be a vibrant, contributing member of its community: exposing audiences to great theater, inviting participation in dialogue and discussion, educating audience members about artistic and social issues, and employing theatrical language and techniques to enrich learning in the classroom. These core values serve as our guiding principles as we grow as one of the foremost inventive and vital theater companies in the Philadelphia community.
Artistic & Education Programs
Founded in 1994 by Charles McMahon and Michael Brophy, Lantern Theater Company has produced over 120 plays by a wide range of contemporary and celebrated classic playwrights. We reach a loyal and growing annual audience through three award-winning core programs:
We are committed to creating theater that is smart, fun, engaging, and connected to our modern world. At the core of our company is the belief that great plays, well performed, make a difference in the lives of the people who experience them.
Illumination Education Program
Our innovative education programs engage local schoolchildren and adults in the world of theater, nurturing their artistic expression through in-school residencies, discount student matinee performances, teaching artist training, empathy training for medical students, and theater classes for all skill levels.
Community and Audience Enrichment Programs
Curated and presented by the Lantern throughout the season, our In Conversation Series features fascinating discussions with theater artists and special guests that focus on relevant and timely topics related to our plays. Discussions are followed by an audience Q&A with our panelists.
Since the inception of the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre in 1995, Lantern Theater Company has been recognized with 117 nominations and 22 awards, including the 2023 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Production of a Play and the 2009 Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service. We have been in residence at St. Stephen's Theater at 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia since 1996, managing the performance space and developing it into an affordable multi-purpose performing arts venue.
Header Photo: Lawrence Stallings in the world premiere of Me and the Devil (2021); Anthony Lawton and Dave Johnson in Travesties (2022); Melissa Rakiro and Joanna Liao in Twelfth Night (2023); and Paul L. Nolan, Sally Mercer, and Charles McMahon in Copenhagen (2018). Photos by Mark Garvin.
Lantern Theater Company acknowledges that it is situated on Lenapehoking, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Unami Lenape, and we pay respect to them as this region's original storytellers.