Educate, entertain and enlighten through the performing arts
to enhance community relationships and improve quality of life.
The Montana Actors’ Theatre strives to become the epicenter of performing arts in northern Montana.
MAT provides a safe environment to enhance creative abilities, build a community ensemble through
artistic experience and tell the story of humanity in all its diversity.
Founded for a short time as the Northwest Ensemble Theatre in Eugene, Oregon, the Montana Actors’ Theatre officially came into existence in 1992 in Havre, Montana under the direction of Jay Pyette. For the first few years the company had minimal resources and only a few members, producing small shows by any means possible. In 1999, the company “took off” with the first production of Pyette’s original play, The Dead of Winter with a cast of twenty-four. From that point on the company never looked back. In 2000, the company took on Hamlet to strong reviews, as well as beginning two long-standing programs: Grant Olson directed Ten Little Indians as the first production for the youth program and Pyette conducted the first children’s theatre camp.
In 2002, MAT took a huge step forward as it became the official resident theatre of MSU-Northern and implemented a multiple-show season. In 2003, the company again staged The Dead of Winter, but this time in the Union Theatre in London, England, solidifying MAT’s reputation as a touring theatre company. (Read more about the London Tour.) Expanding on its relationship with MSU-N, the company began offering classes through the university in 2003 with MAT members acting as adjunct faculty. Currently, classes in acting, theatre history, set design and construction, costuming and technical design are all offered at Northern.
In 2006, MAT expanded again by opening a “branch” in Missoula under the direction of Grant Olson. MAT-Missoula continued to operate on a full-time basis for several years and while operations have currently scaled back, MAT still produces The Rocky Horror Show, Live! in the Wilma Theatre every year to enormous success. In 2010, MAT also began operating in Great Falls after a merger with Center Stage Theatre company. While the venture proved beneficial for several years, MAT eventually decided to focus its efforts primarily in Havre, on touring productions, and on the youth and children’s programs.
In 2013, Pyette was appointed to the Montana Arts Council by Governor Bullock and in 2014 he became a full-time employee of MAT with the task of ensuring a solid future for the company. Over the past five years, that future has been secured. Currently, the company produces eight to ten mainstage shows per season, tours productions throughout the Hi-Line region, and offers many additional events and projects. The entire company is under the direction of an Artistic Director and Council with oversight by an established Board of Directors. One full-time and two part-time employees ensure MAT responsibilities are fulfilled and well over a hundred volunteers fill roles, take on technical positions, direct shows, run the box office and complete all the tasks needed to operate a full-time theatre company.
The youth programs have become a staple for the company. KidsMAT, the fully-developed children’s theatre program, has evolved into a state-wide touring program and a youth production continues to be staged every year, both under the direction of college-aged interns and under the supervision of MAT personnel. With enormous individual, business and corporate financial support and a strong grant base, MAT has ensured a future of theatre opportunities for kids and adults alike in Northcentral Montana.