THE YEAR WAS 1930, America was mired in the Great Depression, and a small group of Marin women wanted to help the county escape the downbeat atmosphere — if only for an hour or so. So they formed the Ross Valley Players (RVP). Now, 85 years later — and in far better times — it can be said that the players are still playing. In fact, RVP is the West Coast’s oldest continually operating community theater. The above photo shows the famous Red Barn, the company home for the past 75 years, following a 1947 matinee. The barn, built by landowner James Ross in 1864, is located in Ross on the grounds of what is now the Marin Art and Garden Center. Improvements over the years have added a raised main stage, professional lighting, arena seating, a lobby and Americans with Disabilities Act–compliant restrooms. “There’s definitely a lot of life in our wonderful theater,” says Cris Cassell, president of the RVP’s board of directors, “We now present 34 weeks of live theater every year.” To celebrate its 85-year history, Ross Valley Players is hosting a gala dinner at 5:30 p.m. April 18 in the Livermore Room of the Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Tickets start at $175.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Still Alive at 85“.