Bringing community together since 1938!
Since 1938 friends, families and visitors to our community have been gathering at 22 Pleasant Street in Chester to experience movies, music, theatre and community events. A supportive and generous community has kept this jewel alive and thriving as an important arts venue on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
We are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq People. The area where the Chester Playhouse is situated is known as Meneskwe’k, which roughly translates to “the marshy place”. We honour the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, and we would like to pay our respects to the Elders, past and present, as we continue to work in our community toward reconciliation on a daily basis. We are all treaty people. This practice, of acknowledging the original inhabitants of this land, is itself an Indigenous practice. We offer it to affirm our commitment to learning and working towards a more equitable world, and to invite you to join us on this journey.
The History of 22 Pleasant Street
The building that is now known as the Chester Playhouse was built in 1938 and operated as the Kenerik movie house for many years. Starting in 1963, it was used as a venue for annual summer theatre productions by the Chester Jesters, but then sat unused until 1975 when it was purchased by Leo and Dora Velleman and Canadian Puppet Festivals. They used the building until merging with Mermaid Theatre in 1983.
Then after a brief dormant period, the Chester Theatre Council brought the Playhouse to life again with the first Chester Summer Festival in 1987, a series of touring shows over an eight-week period. That fall the building was purchased by Sir Christopher Ondaatje and renamed the Chester Playhouse. In 1992, he donated the Playhouse to the Chester Theatre Council, a registered charity with a volunteer Board of Directors that continues to operate the Playhouse today.
The Chester Playhouse now showcases established and emerging musicians, professional theatre, Hollywood, and independent films, and welcomes community talent to the stage.