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The Black Hills Playhouse, by Gov. Dennis Daugaard


Location: Unknown

The Black Hills Playhouse is one of South Dakota's proudest examples of living history, fine art, and the fruits of perseverance.

Located in Custer State Park, the Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously operated summer stock theaters in the United States.

Since 1946, students from across the state, region, and country have come to Custer to spend their summers creating memorable theater productions. The students produce the entire show, from building sets to running spotlights to acting in the plays and musicals.

My daughter Laura and I can tell you from firsthand experience that the atmosphere, the actors and the play are a real treat.

In the past few years, the Black Hills Playhouse has become an example of persistence and second chances in South Dakota.

The Playhouse and actors' dormitories were constructed in the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Over the next 78 busy summers and sleepy winters, the facilities had great wear. By 2009, they'd become completely unusable. The Playhouse, however, did not give up.

During the 2010 summer season, the board and staff made the bold decision to take the show on the road while raising the money needed to return the show to the storied Playhouse in Custer State Park. Linda and I were very happy to help in their fundraising effort this past spring.

After much hard work and innovation by the Black Hills Playhouse board, alumni and supporters, the "Get Back in the Park' campaign was successful. In May, construction began to upgrade the Playhouse facilities. This summer, the theater group returned to its historic Custer State Park location to continue a great South Dakota tradition.

The 2011 season began in mid-June and runs through August. Linda and I plan to attend in July.

I recommend that anyone traveling or considering traveling to the Black Hills seek out this tremendous experience. The new Playhouse facilities have maintained their historic beauty while providing a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy great theater. The Black Hills Playhouse is a true South Dakota success story, enduring hard times through optimism and self-reliance, to emerge
stronger than ever.

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