Black Bart Playhouse to get Makeover Murphys Creek Theatre
awarded grant to remodel  Black Bart Playhouse

The Black Bart Playhouse in Murphys fills a multitude of roles. It is ‘church’ to community Sunday services, a venue for independent film premiers and local play productions, a platform for all manner of local talent, world class musicians, and more. Home to our community’s fundraisers and festivals, our contests and concerts and ceremonies, our prized playhouse is far more than the label ‘Playhouse’ implies. Tommy Castro and Sourdough Slim, Aiofe O’Donovan and Coco Montoya, to name a few, have rocked us here. The world premier of locally produced film ‘River of Skulls’ showed here, and residents have dressed in drag, delighting to the antics of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’. The playhouse’s custodian, Murphys Creek Theatre, works to ensure its availability for all manner of local needs.

Originally used by the Calaveras Road Department to store sand, credit goes to the Murphys Black Bart Players for negotiating with the County in 1987 and subsequently orchestrating a groundswell of locally donated labor, material and money to ‘repurpose’ an oversized storage shed into a playhouse. Now, thirty years later, this community treasure is in urgent need of repair. That’s the bad news. The good news is its caretaker, Murphys Creek Theatre, is excited to announce it has been awarded a Grant from the Winter Creek Foundation for the building’s much needed repair.

Rental contributions from community events cover basic maintenance costs, but the years have taken a toll on some of the infrastructure. Visitors may have noticed small changes over the last few years such as the plush red theater seats and new lighting equipment, and with this grant, MCT hopes to make an even bigger dent in its list of honey-dos.

It’s great to have fabulous shows like Speed The Plow, The Elephant Man and Equivocation with terrific sets, lighting and staging – and hopefully now we, and the community, can have a venue to match. “We want to grow – catch up with the renovations in the rest of Murphys, and raise the profile of the theater in the community,” says Graham. “We are all volunteers here and love seeing the arts and live theater. I hope this energizes our supporters. It’s time for the outside to match the inside. This grant is a great start, and we are looking to the community, patrons and friends of theater everywhere to help us match it- stretch that gift even further!”

A GoFundMe campaign at has been established with the goal of raising $10,000 by July 14th so the company’s next production, Over The River and Through The Woods, by Joe DiPietro and directed by Maryann Curmi, and scheduled to run July 14 through July 30, can take place in a freshly remodeled space. More information is available on Facebook.

“It’s nice to see great plays in Murphys, but it is even nicer when the venue is welcoming.” Graham says, “we’ve done what we can with what we have, but people notice when things seem a bit funky. We want the whole experience at the theater to be inspiring. Murphys deserves it.”

To contact the theatre company, call 209-728-8422 or email at