The Clarence Brown Theatre at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is focused on enriching the city through theatrical arts. Dr. Paul Soper began the legacy of theatre at The University of Tennessee as the Theatre Director in 1939. He had been responsible for the production of the plays at the U.T. Playhouse at the time and before then, the only access to theatre on campus was through drama clubs and had spontaneously formed from time to time.


By the Fall 1940 semester, a one year theatre course was introduced to the curriculum in the English department including studies in stagecraft, acting, and directing.

As the program grew, a need for a permanent facility to host productions came in need. Dr. Soper joined together with The Knoxville Junior League of The Women to produce a series of summer plays with talent from the university and the community under a carousel tent. UT trustees soon approved financing for a program to fund the building of a space for a theatre cooperation between UT and the community named after Dr. Soper’s summer experiment called the Carousel Theatre Program.

The Carousel Theatre Program was very successful and expanded over the next 20 years to include a children’s theatre program, production of more than 200 shows, and development of a strong theatre presence in Knoxville. In 1970, Dr. Soper with the support of Clarence Brown, Academy Award nominated director and UT alumni, petitioned for the Clarence Brown Theatre to be built. In November of that same year the Clarence Brown Theatre for the Performing Art at the University of Tennessee Knoxville was opened as one of the finest theatres in the United States and a signature of the UT Campus.

Community Events

Not only does the theatre put on plays, there are several opportunities for community events at the Clarence Brown Theatre.

Tours- Backstage tours of the theatre are free and can be tailored to your groups interests including information on specific shows that are in production or the theatre in general. Tours can last from 30-60 minutes and include the lobby, back stage tour and a visit to the shops.

Auditions- Auditions are open to UT students, professionals and community members. There are open auditions a few times per year and notification of these times are posted on the website with cast information and what you will need to bring with an application.

Season for Youth- Matinee shows offered during the school day with discounted admission for school groups and chaperones.

Actor Talk Backs- Following the second matinee performance of a show, select cast members, crew and artistic team members stick around to have a discussion with audience and community members about the show. These last for ½ hour to an hour and are moderated by a coordinator of the theatre and create an open dialogue between the community and the staff about the theatre or particular opinions about a play or ideas.

Faith, Hope and Love- The annual free performance of A Christmas Carol that is hosted every December for members of the community who would not be able to afford to see live theatre otherwise.

Pay What You Wish Wednesday- Every Wednesday when a Play Is previewing a limited number of pay what you wish tickets will be available to increase access to theatre for the entire community.

Deaf Night at the Theatre- Two productions per year have performances offered with ASL interpreters. A Christmas Carol is always one of the shows with a performance offered with interpreters.

CBT Family Feast- Twice a year the theatre hosts a family night where dinner and a show is combined for a night of fun for the whole family. Tickets are sold in advance.

Educational Opportunities

The Clarence Brown Theatre Is dedicated to spreading awareness of the theatrical arts in the cultural environment of Knoxville and offers many opportunities for people in the community to experience this art first had at the theatre and in the city.

Acting Workshops-Every summer the Clarence Brown Theatre offers day camps for high school students and college freshmen who are interested in advancing their technique in several different theatrical skills. Twenty participants are accepted each year. Students must provide their own sack lunch and will have homework to complete for this workshop. There is a final performance so daily attendance is mandatory.

In The Classroom- Staff and artists from the theatre lead workshops and lectures in acting, voice, design, Shakespeare, careers in theatre, and other topics in classrooms and drama clubs across the Knoxville area.

Back to: Knoxville, TN

1714 Andy Holt Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, Phone: 865-974-6011

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