The Mobtown Players has its roots in The Johns Hopkins University. While attending JHU during the early nineties, which at the time had no real theatre program, Ryan Whinnem, Noel Schively, Bill Henry and Ruth Scrandis Henry were all participants in the Hopkins student theatre group, The Barnstormers. Whinnem was so anxious to do Shakespeare that he had gone as far as to start his own splinter group, the Hopkins Classic Players. They performed Romeo and Juliet in a breezeway on campus with a $100 budget. Whinnem figures $50 went for snacks.
After graduation the four went their separate ways. When, after residencies in Los Angeles and Boston, Whinnem returned to Baltimore in the summer of 1997, he contacted the other three. Within days the four decided to form their own theatre company.
Their mission statement was simple. “Mobtown is dedicated to making theatre a popular form of entertainment in Baltimore by producing new topical works and classical works in inventive ways.”
Their first production, Hamlet, opened in the fall of 1998. Imaginatively staged at the historic St. John’s Church in Baltimore City, the production quickly won the new group attention from both the press and other local theatres. The following spring the Company produced Mimi Teahan’s Urban Breakdowns for the Baltimore Playwrights Festival and won the Festival’s Third Place Production award. For the next several years, Mobtown produced classics such as A Comedy of Errors and Merchant of Venice while continuing to annually participating in the BPF. Without a central theatre to work in, the Company floated from one location to another.
In the spring of 2002 Mobtown went to the heart of Baltimore when it staged A Midsummer Night’s Dream outdoors in Patterson Park. The park provided a natural amphitheatre that matched Mobtown’s ambition. The appearance of live theatre in such an urban outdoor setting brought the Company attention from every corner of Baltimore. Since that first show they have returned to Patterson Park as often as they could, staging classic Shakespeare at affordable prices. Many Baltimore city residents have spent a starry summer night entertained by Mobtown’s versions of Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet or Twelfth Night.
The Mobtown Theater
In the fall of 2003 Mobtown found a home when they took over a vacated theatre at Meadow Mill. Located in Baltimore’s classic Hampden Neighborhood, the permanent space meant that for the first time Mobtown could create a permanent season. The 70 seat venue was the perfect home for Mobtown’s mix of classical and new work. They opened with a new translation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope.
The new theatre features a large lobby, which allows the theatre to offer plenty space for an after-show beverage, three rehearsal spaces, a large backstage area for set construction and two large offices. When they opened in their new space, Mobtown also formed a partnership with other Baltimore theatre companies looking for production space. Run of the Mill, Company 13, The Unmentionable Theatre Company, the Living Room Theater Company, and several others have all used the Mobtown Theater to great individual success.