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Swift Creek Mill is a great theatre… and much more!
A Historical Treasure
The iconic structure Swift Creek Mill Theatre calls home has been around since at least 1663 – that’s more than 350 years! We can only imagine that a building of this size would have been a major undertaking in the 1600’s, not only because of the granite bedrock that was laboriously removed to create the basement but also because this was a “new world” then, not even 60 years after Jamestown was established. This new watermill must have been part of the promise of industry in America, and today it is the promise of the enduring strength of our community. Renovated in 2013, the mill building is now ADA compliant but still retains the charm that it has held for centuries. (Read more here.)
An Innovative Educational Experience
It is to be expected that young, aspiring actors and technicians have learned and advanced their craft at The Mill. It has been hands-on theatre education and a springboard for local talent since 1965. But did you know that in 1989 Swift Creek Mill began producing original children’s theatre? Since then, Paul Deiss’s Drifty the Snowman and friends have been reinforcing student vocabulary, geography and social studies with a new show every holiday. And each season Drifty is accompanied by other original educational plays. Some seasons also include performances of feature-length plays, offered for their educational value and followed by director and/or cast interaction. From the kids’ perspective, they have such a good time, they may not even realize they’re learning!
A Gathering Place
In the heyday of American theatre, thousands of theatre-goers flocked to The Mill for every production via tours, corporate parties, and other groups. Then the cultural landscape changed, and many small playhouses closed nationwide. The Mill, however, survived, thanks to all the local people who love it. Now the motor coach tours and groups are looking for substance and culture – something special in our digital world – and rediscovering the magic of theatre. Our venue offers a place to come together for a good meal and unmatched atmosphere for groups, couples and families alike, followed by sensational entertainment. It also offers the perfect location for private meetings and events for up to 220 people. No matter the reason to gather, The Mill is the place for it.
From the southern border of Richmond to the North Carolina state line (75 miles!), there are very few cultural outlets, The Mill being one of them. Some organizations have come and gone, but some architectural beauties, such as The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia, and The Colonial Center for the Performing Arts, have been restored and reopened as presenting venues. But there is only one producing, professional playhouse in our area – Swift Creek Mill Theatre – and there is a lot of ground to cover. In addition to offering Mainstage and Youth Theatre, we are proud to present the work of local artists on the walls of the historic Mill Room during plays.
If you feel the Mill is a special part of Virginia's art, history, and culture, please consider giving a donation to help keep the arts strong in our underserved area.