When you think of a theater, you might envision a physical place – plush seats, flowing curtains, a maze of lights hanging above, and a blank stage before you waiting to be brought to life.
Circle Players is known for its unique, intimate space, and it’s one we love and are proud of. But we didn’t start as a building. Circle began as a community of people who loved theater, and decided to do whatever it took to bring more of it into the world.
In 1951, a handful of Merck & Company employees banded together and presented a collection of three one act plays at the First Presbyterian Church in Rahway. They called themselves the Merck Circle Players, and by November of 1952 they presented their first full season of shows.
From the beginning, Circle was about resourcefulness, ingenuity, and a willingness to take on challenges. Without a permanent, dedicated theater space at their disposal, they rehearsed in members’ homes and performed in libraries, churches, school auditoriums, and anywhere else they could manage. They chose small, intimate shows to keep costs down, and staged in the round so they could remain flexible from one venue to the next.
In 1955, Circle’s nomadic days came to an end when we took up residency in the former recreation hall of the First Presbyterian Church of Woodbridge. 16 years later, we moved to a former grange hall in Piscataway, and remain there to this day.
Despite the moves, changes, challenges and setbacks we’ve experienced, the core of Circle Players has stayed the same. We love good theater, and we will do whatever it takes to bring more of it into the world.
We’ve been a part of the arts community in Central New Jersey for more than 60 years, but our story is far from over. We hope you’ll be part of it as it goes forward!