Box Office Hours
Available for reservations by phone 11 AM - 4 PM
As you enter Joshua Tree, heading east on Highway 62, you
will see a large building with
an interesting red and white front. The railings, posts
and windows frames were donated
by people who rescued them from a home that was built for
General John Fremont in 1888.
This is the Culture Center, home of a truly unique organization, the Hi-Desert Playhouse Guild.
Inside is a 175 seat theater whose lobby is an Art Gallery.
Behind is another building of the same size, the Guild Hall, which houses the workshop where sets are built, a dance floor with bars and mirrors for dance lessons, a wardrobe for costumes, rehersal hall, artists workshop, meeting hall for the theater workshop, membership meetings and more.
The most unique thing is the fact that the building was built with mostly volunteer labor and paid as it was built through fund raisers and donations. The land was donated in 1977. There were members who took care of the escrow, title search, surveying, architecture, drafting, engineering, grading etc. People of the community who were in the businesses and received either no pay or very little pay.
The Building Dept. was very cooperative. The cement and building materials were supplied at reduced cost by local dealers. The framing was done in one weekend by a crew of 22 volunteers, including 2 biulding contractors. Four to six men in their 60's and 70's worked every day. often doing things they didn't know they could do.
An electrician worked out the wiring and another got the supplies wholesale.
A plumber laid out the plumbing and got supplies.
One member worked for a steel door manufacturer and one for an alarm system company which helped.
A drapery company made and donated the curtain. One man figured out an apparatus which allowed these older men to lift and install the tresses one by one, saving a lot of money.
The very good accoustics are egg crates which were fire proofed, painted and installed on the back wall.
Some people came by just at the right time and worked for only a day or two doing their special thing, like the man who installed the restroom booths.
A member did the landscaping in the front of the building, donating many plants.
Now there is the beautiful big Howard Pierce roadrunner.
The guild first organized in 1965, putting on plays in schools, Community Centers, Desert Christ Park and the Sportsman's Hall until the building was finsihed in 1980.
The Chapparal Artists came along in 1968 and had their first Studio Tour in 1969. Five artists opened their studios for each of these fund raisers which continued for about 12 years. A couple who had been in the restuarant business put on many spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts. We had a paper bag project where everyone was given $1.00 to multiply by buying ingredients to bake, craft materials or whatever.
A beautiful garne party brought in $10,000.00, mostly in $100.00 donations. An antique auction made about $5,000.00. We had oprea concerts, a tatling fair, hamburger fries, garage sales and more. Kaffe Klatches brought an average of $50.00 and sometimes new members.
Membership varied from 400 to 800 and they have had lots of fun. A lot goes on there now. Usually 5 plays a season (3 of them musicals) and the Summer Youth Theater.
The Theater Workshop has 2 productions. The Chorale and Keyboard Clubs each present 2 programs. Then there is Sounds Original and a couple of Singalongs.
The artists have a judged show and their Arts & Crafts Roundup besides their weekly workshop and their gallery displays.
In December, there is the Walk Through Bethlehem, an unusual experience that takes you back to the time and place of the birth of Jesus with live animals, dancing girls, a bazaar, artisans, craftsman and a lot more including the baby in the manger.
There is something for everyone here, so why not stop and look into what might be here for you.
Hi-Desert Playhouse WEB Site: http://www.hidesertculturalcenter.com
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