The Hangar Theatre opened in 1975, in a renovated municipal airport hangar. This unique conversion was made possible by a grant from Nelson Rockefeller and the combined efforts and support of the Ithaca Repertory Theatre, Cornell University, Ithaca College, and the City of Ithaca. In 1986 the Hangar received a significant grant, from the New York State Natural Heritage Trust to build an adjacent set and costume shop. The Hangar’s capital campaign in 1995 raised more than $270,000 for additional improvements to the facility.
From 1982-1996, under the artistic leadership of Robert Moss from New York’s Playwrights Horizons, the Hangar achieved national prominence as a professional regional theatre that produces exceptional plays and serves as a fertile learning environment for young theatre professionals. In 1988, the Hangar’s directing internship program expanded when the Drama League Project began sending emerging directors to the Hangar to direct plays in The Wedge, and in 1989 the Lab Company was formed.
The appointment of Mark Ramont as artistic director from 1997-2000 signaled the beginning of another phase of creative growth on the Mainstage. At the same time, under Lisa Bushlow’s leadership as education director from 1991-2000, the Hangar became recognized throughout New York State and across the country for its comprehensive, year-round theatre education programs.
In 2000, the Board appointed Lisa as the Hangar’s first executive director, at which time she recommended Kevin Moriarty as the artistic director. Under their leadership the Hangar continued to grow and develop, adding a New Play Festival in 2001, the Hangar tent and Starlight Café in 2002, and expanded artistic and educational programming, including the commissioning of new plays. Robert Moss returned as Interim Artistic Director for summer 2008; Peter Flynn was named Artistic Director in August, 2008. Peter comes to the Hangar Theatre with extensive credits in both New York and Regional Theatre. In addition, Peter teaches at New York University through the Stella Adler Conservatory and holds to the philosophy that interaction between actor and audience stimulates community discourse, well-being in families and among friends, and contributes vitality and value to daily living.
During the school year, the Hangar brings a range of theatre experiences to students across New York State, with the School Tour and Artists-in-the-Schools programs. Throughout the summer, School-Time and KIDDSTUFF performances and the Next Generation School of Theatre reach thousands of young people. The Hangar currently serves approximately 60,000 adults and children annually.
As of December 31, 2010 we met our Hangar for All Seasons capital campaign goal of $4.6 million ($4 million for the building renovation, and $600,000 for endowment for the future), and are working toward our Super Goal of an additional $300,000 to renovate the shop and purchase new equipment.