Theatre Knoxville, affectionately known as TKD, proudly holds the title of Knoxville’s oldest continuously operating, non-academic, all-volunteer, non-profit community theater. It all began in March 1976 when Knoxville Community Theatre (KCT) was chartered with a mission to promote theater in the Knoxville metropolitan area and train aspiring performers. In 1988, we changed our name to Theatre Knoxville (TK) and later became Theatre Knoxville Downtown (TKD) when we found our home at 319 North Gay Street in 2005.
Before settling in at our current location, TKD spent its early years as a “homeless” theater, staging productions in various venues including the Bijou Theatre, Tennessee Amphitheater, Market Square, and even the Harlequin Dinner Theater. Despite the lack of a permanent home, TKD managed to offer a few productions each year along with drama camps for children and acting classes for adults. However, by the early 2000s, we faced challenges in finding affordable performance spaces and raising enough resources.
In a stroke of luck, TKD seized the opportunity to move into the vacant space at 319 North Gay Street previously occupied by Theatre Central. With a new home, TKD officially became Theatre Knoxville Downtown and opened its doors with a production of “Graceland.” Over the years, TKD expanded its repertoire to include a variety of comedies, dramas, and musicals, showcasing both popular favorites and more offbeat and avant-garde productions. Our dedicated volunteers, who handle everything from production tasks to building maintenance, have played a pivotal role in its success.
Collaboration has been a key part of TKD’s journey, partnering with local theater groups like Tennessee Stage Company, Knoxville Children’s Theatre, Tiger Lily Theatre, and Free Spirit Theater. We have shared resources, props, and even actors and directors. Notable playwrights and theater personalities, such as Jones, Hope, and Wooten, Leslie Kimball, and Del Shores, have graced TKD with their presence, further enriching the theater’s offerings.
As TKD continued to thrive, the need for a larger and more suitable space became evident. In April 2019, after a successful Second Act Campaign, Theatre Knoxville Downtown relocated to 800 South Central Street. The new venue boasts a more spacious stage, increased seating capacity, and improved amenities. This move has been warmly received by both TKD and its patrons, setting the stage for future growth and enhancements.
Looking ahead, TKD aims to further improve its new location by raising additional funds. The theater remains committed to providing quality theatrical productions while engaging a diverse range of community members. With their sights set on expanding their patron base, maintaining financial stability, and enriching the local theater scene, Theatre Knoxville Downtown continues to be a vibrant hub for artistic expression and entertainment in Knoxville.