About

Festival Theatre USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to be a true American theatre company by continuing its legacy of being the first American troupe to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1966. We endeavor to create a collaborative artistic environment that supports and mentors new theatrical works and revisits the classics of the American stage.

Festival Theatre USA is dedicated to taking part in local California festivals, such as the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and international festivals, such as Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to carry on its tradition of sharing both original and iconic American works with a global audience.

In addition to production, Festival Theatre USA hopes to serve as a repository of photos and documents celebrating the work of John Ed. Blankenchip in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

As those who participated know, John produced a printed program for each season on the Fringe. Each had a variation on a boilerplate history of the FTUSA. The following is taken from the 2005 program, the last year Festival Theatre USA was in Scotland.

Festival Theatre USA-USC was the title given to the special overseas program devised and produced for the University of Southern California School of Theatre by John Edw. Blankenchip. Thirty-nine years later, the company is now known simply as FESTIVAL THEATRE USA.

The aim of FESTIVAL THEATRE USA is to present in repertory a varied program cutting across the Performing Arts.

During the summers of 1966, 67, 68, 69, 70, 75, 78, 79, 81, 82, 84, 85, 88, 89, 90, 94, 96, 97, 2000, and 2001, the Company gave over 1,639 performances of 255 different productions on the Fringe of the International Edinburgh Festival.

The Company also appeared at the Jeanetta Chochrane Theatre in London during the summers of 1967, 68, 68, and 70. The Company has made three tours of key German cities at the Amerika-Hauses, under the sponsorship of the United States Information Service of the State Department, and has appeared at the American Embassy in London. Invitations to perform have been honored at the Holland Festival (1968), the Greenock Festival (1970), the Arts Theatre, Cambridge (1970 and 71) Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris (2001) and the Stag Theatre, Skywalker Ranch and Industrial Light and Magic, Marin County California. (2002).

Our present company of theatre professionals is composed of Edinburgh veterans and alumni of the USC School of Theatre. With degrees in acting, directing, playwriting and design, these artists not only perform but also serve as technicians-constructing and painting scenery, rigging and designing the lights, stage managing, ad assisting as box office, publicity, and house personnel-a total theatre experience.

As FESTIVAL THEATRE USC-USA, the Company received The Scotsman’s FRINGE FIRST AWARD in 1978 for Sondheim’s FOLLIES and again in 1979 for Shepard’s BURIED CHILD.

Founding Board 2012

  • Casey Cowan-Gale
  • Michael Etzrodt, President and Co-Founder
  • Allison Price
  • Bob Scales
  • Margo Upham, Secretary/Treasurer and Co-Founder
  • Elliott Woodruff, Vice-President