About Candlelight Theatre

In 2004, Dr. Donna Wing worked with the museum staff to create Candlelight Theatre, a theatre partnership featuring 19th-century and early 20th-century plays with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site providing a one-of-a-kind stage.  We are keenly aware of this rare opportunity to present a variety of theatre genres that rotate the audience through the sacred space of a President's home, showcasing antique Harrison collectibles and furnishings. Candlelight Theatre continues to offer theatrical experiences that carefully weave entertainment and experience with education—which is at the heart of the BHPS mission: to increase public understanding of, appreciation for, and participation in the American system of self-government through the life stories, arts and culture of an American President.


Donna Wing – Creative Director

Donna spent her childhood and teen years in both New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was a young actress and dancer.  She modeled and danced on a local teen television show in Tulsa and later worked professionally for CSI Productions where she appeared in training videos.  She holds a bachelor and masters degree in nursing from the University of Tulsa and University of Oklahoma, respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Tulsa in conjunction with the University of London England.

In 1999 she surrendered her tenure as a mental health nursing professor and moved to Indianapolis.   At that time she returned to the performing arts, studying dance privately as well as studying theater at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  She joined the community theatre circuit, performing in most Indianapolis-area theatres as well as in Chicago.  In 2004, she opened two theatre companies, Oaklandon Civic Theatre (OCT) in northeast Indianapolis and Candlelight Theatre at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, each with a different mission and business model.

In 2012, Donna was an ADVANCED LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE PARTNER FELLOW at Harvard University. Her project focused on creating new arts delivery paradigms of which Candlelight Theatre was a prototype.

In Candlelight Theatre, she has performed in Georges Feydeau's Wooed and Viewed; Agatha Christie's The Rats; George Bernard Shaw's The Inca of Perusalem; and Eugene Labiche's A Matter of Wife and Death, among other productions. She has also directed Chekhov's Swan Song; Shaw's How He Lied to Her Husband; H. G. Wells' The Inexperienced Ghost; John Murray's The Door; and William Muskerry's Box and Cox.


James Trofatter – Resident Playwright

Jim was born and raised in north-central New Jersey about 30 miles west of New York City. His first role was King Oberon in A Mid-Summer Night's Dream in the fourth grade and he performed numerous roles throughout his teen years in high school productions.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Duke University, an M.S. in Differential and Developmental Cell Biology from Rutgers, The State University and a Ph.D. in Medical and Molecular Genetics from Indiana University.  During his doctoral work he performed in The Mikado” and Amahl and the Night Visitors both staged at the Edyvean Theatre at the Christian Theological Seminary.  He also sang with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir at this time.

He left Indianapolis for a five-year post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard and returned to Indiana in 1995 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine.  Since this time he has performed regularly on stage within the Indianapolis area.  In 2003, he left his position as an Assistant Professor to focus his efforts full-time on writing plays and acting.  He has performed at Theatre on the Square, the Irvington Repertory Theatre, the Oaklandon Civic Theatre, Candlelight Theatre, as well as in various locations during the Indianapolis Fringe Festival. His three plays based on the Harmony books of Philip Gulley were produced by the Irvington Repertory Theatre.  These are An Advent of HarmonyA Passion for Harmony, and Corn and Sausage in Harmony.  In addition to his writing and acting he became the technical director for Theatre on the Square in 2005.

Jim first performed with Candlelight Theatre in the spring of 2004 appearing with Bob Berry in Anton Chekhov’s Swan Song.  He has also performed in George Bernard’s Shaw’s The Inca of Perusalem and How He Lied To Her Husband; Agatha Christie’s The Rats; Eugene Labiche’s A Matter of Wife and Death; Marlene Remington’s In Memoriam and Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher.

He has also directed seven of the half-hour shows presented during Candlelight Theatre's spring productions including George Bernard’s Shaw’s The Inca of Perusalem and Augustus Does His Bit; his own Mr. Edward Voorhees; Georges Feydeau’s Romance in A Flat; Lucille Fletcher’sSorry, Wrong Number; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Speckled Band and Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher.

Jim has directed and written the Candlelight Theatre fall Ghost Tales series since 2006 at which time he also became the playwright-in-residence to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.  These plays include the two-part saga of Cold-Blooded at Cold Spring depicting the Nancy Clem murder trial, Ghost Tales of the Civil War and Ghost Tales of Indiana and Victorian Villians.

“An American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart.” ~ Benjamin Harrison

Share Harrison's passion for giving and become a member, donor or volunteer of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.