The Genesius Theatre Foundation

1120 40th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201

Mission And History:

When the guild was organized in 1956, its aim was to fill a special niche in regional performance: to keep alive the classics and to make them freely available to everyone.

In its first year, the guild concentrated on short works which could be performed anywhere and on television specials dealing with classic themes. Starting in 1960, the guild began touring its Shakespearean plays, with performances in Davenport, Iowa, and in Rock Island, Kewanee, and Galesburg, Illinois.

It became clear that the energy and expense expended in touring might be better spent in a single location, so area parks in Iowa and Illinois were scouted for an appropriate setting.

One only was found sufficiently removed from traffic noise and with facilities which could easily be adapted: the Denkmann Memorial Building in Lincoln Park, Rock Island. This was originally built to serve as a shelter for a wading pool, but the facility was closed down in the mid-forties and thereafter used to store park equipment.

The Park Board agreed to let the guild use the building and further agreed to make an annual investment in operational costs. Guild members built their own stage which attaches to the building. Lighting and sound systems were also added. Since 1964, the guild's summer program has been located in that site.

The first play was a Greek tragedy in mask, in 1957. It began the oldest continuous schedule of Greek drama in the country. Shakespeare was added in 1960. In 1972, the guild organized its first opera performances, which became the cornerstone on which the Quad City Mozart Festival was built. Ballet was introduced in 1996.

These programs have always been free. The guild matches the Park Board's contribution with gifts from individuals and area businesses, so that the operation remains solvent.

The guild also stages occasional winter productions of classic works (Shaw, T. S. Eliot, poetry programs, Shakespeare lecture-plays) to help fund its summer series. These productions have been staged in Bettendorf, Clinton, and Davenport, Iowa, and in Moline, Rock Island, and Zion, Illinois.

The mission of the Genesius Guild is: to keep the great works of Western Civilization alive and vital; to give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate in and enjoy these works in an open and natural environment.

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