Candlelight Theatre

2021 Season
Photograph of two candlelight theatre actors in the middle of a performance, depicted Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson. They both hold magnifying glasses inspecting a small revolver pistol lying on a tablecloth on a small table. Holmes looks at the pistol with some curiosity while Watson looks into the camera with an expression of slight dread.
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Performing Arts

Candlelight Theatre

Candlelight Theatre is excited to enter into 18 years of partnership with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.  With the current climate, we know that the tradition of attending a Candlelight Theatre performance is needed more now than ever, but we understand that plans can be disrupted. The safety of our patrons, actors, volunteers and staff comes first which is why we have decided that our Fall and Winter Theatre performances will be suspended until 2021. We will start our season with Death In the Library in the Spring of 2021! We hope you will join us in the spring; we are committed to keeping you engaged and will have exciting announcements for you as we plan other creative theatre experiences.

Candlelight Theatre offers exceptional theatre performances on a stage unlike any other. Each season features plays within the 23rd President’s historic mansion, which provides an authentic backdrop. Creative Director Donna Wing, Resident Playwright James Trofatter and a dedicated company of seasoned actors perform a combination of mysteries, comedies and thrilling historically-inspired tales.

  • In the fall, a ghostly tale encompasses most of the mansion, with every scene taking a new twist and turn through historic rooms.
  • Holiday performances feature vignettes of seasonal traditions and favorite yuletide characters.
  • Spring productions follow a salon theatre format, using the mansion to share intimate one-act mysteries and comedies.
  • Summer productions are full-length plays performed either in the presidential mansion or at a nearby satellite stage.

After 18 years of partnership, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and Candlelight Theatre are proud to announce the 2021 season!  

Current Production
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Meet Candlelight Theatre

Learn about the creative partners behind our productions.
Portrait of Donna Wing. An older woman with red hair, green eyes, red lipstick, and a gold necklace.

Donna Wing, Creative Director

Donna spent her childhood and teen years in both New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma where she was a young dancer, actress and TV model for a local teen scene show. After a hiatus from theater, she returned to the boards after moving to Indianapolis in 2000. In 2003, with the support of Phyllis Geeslin, she founded the Candlelight Theatre Company. She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Tulsa in conjunction with the University of London, England. In 2012, she was a partner fellow in the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her project focused on creating innovative art delivery paradigms of which Candlelight Theatre is a prototype.

Portrait of James Trofatter. He is an elderly man with blown back white hair, cleanly shaved. He wears a slight grin.

James Trofatter, Playwright in Residence

Jim was born and raised in north-central New Jersey. He holds 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. In 2003, Jim retired from academia to fully focus his efforts on writing plays and acting. He has performed at Theatre on the Square, Edyvean Repertory Theatre, the Irvington Repertory Theatre, the Oaklandon Civic Theatre, and Candlelight Theatre, as well as in various locations during the Indianapolis Fringe Festival. His first three full-length plays based on “Harmony” books of Philip Gulley were produced by the Irvington Repertory Theatre. In addition to play writing and acting, Jim was technical director for Theatre on the Square from 2005-2012. Candlelight Theatre and the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site have been Jim’s creative home since 2004; he was made Resident Playwright in 2006. He has directed, written and acted in the Ghost Tales series since 2006, has directed and acted in the Spring salon productions since 2004, and has written the ‘Twas the Night Before… series since 2016. As well as having written some of the Spring short plays, Jim has written numerous versions of plays based on the real-life murders attributed to Nancy Clem, who was tried by Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis in 1868.

Company Members

Meet the talent

Sponsors

With Generous Support From
An image showing Candlelight Theatre's sponsors, including The DeHaan Family foundation, Arts council, art works, national endowment for the arts, allen whitehill clowes, the national bank of indianapolis, and the wing arts and humanities fund

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Update on Presidential Site Tours & Events

We are open for tours! Please visit the 'Plan Your Visit' portion of our website to reserve your tickets. Meantime, watch for additional details on our Events page for Coffee with the Curator, From Monument to Monumental, upcoming events, virtual gatherings, podcasts, curbside engagements, & more!

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Thank you for being an important part of the Presidential Site and sharing a legacy in action!

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