About The Syringa Tree

The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien is a powerful story that takes place against the backdrop of apartheid-era South Africa. The story is told from the point of view of Elizabeth, a privileged six-year-old white girl in Johannesburg. After her loving nanny Salamina gives birth to a daughter, Elizabeth and her family are responsible for keeping the newborn baby hidden. As Gien’s autobiographical play unfolds, Lizzy comes to learn about the harsh realities of racism and segregation during apartheid. Spanning several decades, The Syringa Tree tells the dramatic and heartbreaking tale of a young woman’s journey to adulthood. This show follows the life of six-year old Elizabeth Grace and 23 other characters, black and white, male and female, young and old, all played by three local actors: Kami Sim, Stef Stafford and LaSonya Natividad.

Rochester Civic Theatre

Our Mission

The Rochester Civic Theatre Company is a non-profit organization that educates and enriches the adults and young people of Rochester and southeastern Minnesota through the production and presentation of live theater, music and dance.

A New Chapter for RCT

The Rochester Civic Theatre Company is starting a new chapter in their 69-year history. They have elected four new board members
 in an effort to return to a community theater focusing on local talent. New board president Emily Watkins, owner and editor of Rochester Women Magazine, along with Melissa Adams-Goihl, Missy Hagen and Larry Sinak join existing board members Chad Campbell, Ginger Carson, and Debi  “It’s exciting,” says Watkins. “We’re looking ahead and reimagining what the theatre can and should be. We understand it’s a vital part of the Rochester Community.”

As a working board, members are committed to transparency in decisions. The first order of business was to hire Rochester native, Misha Johnson, as the interim Managing Director. She has worked professionally in theater for over 16 years, is the founder of Immersion Youth Repertory, as well as the Arts Trust of Minnesota, one of the groups that submitted a proposal for the Historic Chateau Theatre in 2019. Johnson says, "I look forward to this opportunity to press the reset button and put the civic back in the Civic Theatre. My goal will be to not only produce quality theatre with local talent, but to create a home for local performing arts groups and restore trust to the nonprofit.”

“We are excited to extend a warm welcome to the community to join us, whether it be as an actor, audience member, volunteer or donor,” says Watkins. “Bear with us as we work to make sure we are proceeding in the safest way possible.”

Theaters have recently been given the green light to open at 25% capacity,and Johnson and the board are already hard at work on a plan to reopen safely as soon as possible with a 2020-2021 season. In the spirit of renewal and collaboration, RCT is opening its doors to other organizations in the area. Watkins says, “We have a beautiful building and want to take full advantage of it.”

I do not take lightly the real work that is in front of us all, but I also take it with optimism and excitement,” Johnson states. “I believe in RCT and understand how important it is to the community it has served for generations. Serving them is the ‘why’ that will fuel us all on this new path forward!”

Questions can be directed to: [email protected]