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2022 Employee Handbook

Welcome to the  Black Hills Playhouse. We can't wait to meet you!


The Black Hills Playhouse will create inclusive performing arts experiences as South Dakota's leading professional and educational theatre.


The Black Hills Playhouse delivers exceptional theatre programs that engage diverse people and strengthen South Dakota communities.


INCLUSION:  Theatre is an integral part of the human experience and needs to be accessible to all. We embrace shared humanity, in order to experience transformation through theatre. 


ARTS / COMMUNITY IMPACT: Arts are impactful vehicles for social, civic, cultural, and educational engagement and vital to the growth of dynamic communities.


RELATIONSHIPS: Strong, deep, and meaningful relationships are key to sustainability and extend the reach of the BHP mission.


SUSTAINABILITY: Responsible management, strategic planning, and engaged teams are essential to the success of the Black Hills Playhouse.


The Black Hills Playhouse is committed to creating theatre that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes the human experience in all its diversity. We seek to collaborate with, employ, share the stories of, and engage individuals of all backgrounds and experiences to foster a healthy environment for opportunity and growth through the power of performance art.   





We have compiled this handbook to help company members learn about the policies and procedures of our campus. Company members will have a chance to meet co-workers and learn more about Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) history, traditions, activities, rules, regulations and opportunities at the 2022 Company Orientation, starting after breakfast on Monday, May 23rd. Other sessions will be scheduled and announced for people coming in after those dates. Orientation is mandatory for all company members, regardless of the number of years worked at the BHP.

What is the Black Hills Playhouse?
Established by Dr. Warren M. “Doc” Lee of the University of South Dakota (USD) in 1946, the Black Hills Playhouse is the longest continuously running not-for-profit summer stock theatre in the United States.  We engage exceptional theatre artists to create work with meaningful community impact, designed to connect people to one another and to their world through the diverse lens of the performing arts. 


Doc Lee’s vision was to provide annual employment for theatre artists in the Black Hills, and provide high-quality entertainment for people who came to the Park. It was his vision and drive which brought the BHP to life. Doc Lee’s photo hangs in the theater lobby and we continue to honor him for his achievements. 

Our theater, built in 1955, is a unique 327-seat, modified proscenium theater designed by Doc Lee himself.  We book around 17,000 admissions per year. Approximately 80% of our audiences come from within a 150-mile radius of the theater and include many loyal patrons, some of whom have seen nearly every play produced during our 75-year history. The other 20% of patrons are tourists visiting the Park.


Each summer a company of professional artists, academics, and students from all over the nation come together for a fourteen-week period of intensive summer stock theatre in Custer State Park.  The BHP is nestled in the Black Hills National Forest and is just moments away from Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse National Monuments. 

Living arrangements and COVID-19 protocols

The company works and lives in a former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp which was built in 1934 during the Great Depression. The site includes living and dining facilities for the company as well as production shops, a rehearsal hall, storage buildings, and a historic theater. Company members reside in rustic dorms and cabins.  Every necessity is provided, but typical “creature comforts” are limited.


Covid-19 protocols MAY be mandated for all company members during the 2022 season.  We carefully monitor CDC guidelines as well as solicit the counsel of regional medical professionals.

History to today

The BHP generated controversy as the original CCC buildings outlived their usefulness and presented safety hazards. In 2010, the state closed the site for use and the legislature passed legislation mandating remedy of safety hazards before it could reopen. In 2011, Playhouse supporters raised over $533,000 to meet the state mandate and build a new dining hall. By the end of 2022, the organization has invested almost two million dollars worth of improvements in the site and continues to invest annually to meet lease requirements. We have lots of folks working as a team to help preserve and improve the BHP for future generations.


Programs offered include a professional summer stock theatre company in Custer State Park,  summer camps, specialty programs inclusive of people with disabilities, and a touring company which takes arts residencies to communities large and small across the region.


Black Hills Playhouse Partners, Board, Staff & Volunteers
The BHP is a cooperative partnership between the not-for-profit Black Hills Playhouse, Inc., the State of South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, & Parks Custer State Park, and the College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD.

There is a 25-member Board of Directors that serves the BHP. These volunteers are devoted to doing what it takes to make the company sustainable while honoring its long history. They work year-round on maintenance projects, planning for the organization, and fundraising. In 2022, 77% of income is projected to be earned through ticket and retail sales, with 23% raised through grant writing, annual gifts from patrons, and special events. Without the Board and year-round staff's work in the off-season and the generosity of many volunteers and donors, the BHP would not exist. We ask that all company members make volunteers feel welcome when they visit as they are great folks who devote a lot of time, talent, and treasure to help support the company.

The Black Hills Playhouse’s year-round staff includes:

Executive Director Linda Anderson

BHP Campus:  Artistic Director Dan Workman, Associate Director Randy Niles

Education: Education Director Deb Workman, Associate Director of Education Katryna Preston-Lowery, Ed Administrative & Marketing Assistant Kristen Barnhardt, Tour Team & Teaching Artists

Development: Development Director Jeff Kingsbury, Operations & Development Assistant Kassi Blue-Scates


It is a small but mighty crew who work tirelessly to fundraise, manage capital improvement and maintenance projects, produce our education programs, market the season, hire the company, make all of the preparations necessary to receive company members and audiences for the season, and close down the campus after the season ends. 


The Black Hills Playhouse 2022 Season, Ticket Prices & Comp policies
Ticket and show information can be found at  Each company member will be assigned 4 comp tickets for the summer to use any way you choose. Tickets must be reserved through the Box Office using a unique passcode. If you don't plan to use your comp tickets, you may gift them to others as long as the Box Office staff uses your code. Please see the ticket office to get more details on how this works. If you need additional tickets, they may be purchased at alumni rates of $25 each.

Company members are invited to watch shows if duties permit and space allows. If you have children, please choose seats strategically in case you need to leave the theater. Parents of young children who make noise during a production are expected to take them out so they do not disturb our patrons. Ushers will give a friendly reminder if this doesn't happen in a timely way.

Two days before each production opens is Company Watch. This is a chance for the designers, directors, actors, and tech personnel to refine the production while working in front of an audience. Company members should behave as audience members and not distract the cast and crew.

The final dress rehearsal for each production is a special Park Preview where members of the press, alums, Custer State Park staff and tourism professionals are invited to view the show on a “Pay As You Go” basis with a suggested $10 minimum. These performances are general admission and give us great word-of-mouth advertising. These performances are very popular.


Company Watch and Park Preview dates for 2022 are as follows:

The Mountaintop                Company Watch        Park Preview

                                    Wednesday, June 1, 2022    Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Odd Couple

                                    Thursday, June 16, 2022    Friday, June 17, 2022

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

                                   Monday, July 11, 2022        Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Something Rotten!

                                  Monday, August 8, 2022    Tuesday, August 9,2022


A popular program is the BankWest Kids & Teens Go Free. For every adult ticket sold, patrons are encouraged to bring two youth, ages 18 & under, free to see the shows on select performances. This is intended to develop the next generation of theatre-goers while making theatre affordable for families.


Expectations of Company Members
At the BHP, we are serious about delivering high-quality theatre productions for our patrons, while at the same time providing a worthwhile educational experience for students, and a healthy workplace. We expect everyone to cooperate as a team to produce the best theatre possible with the resources available. Attitude is important and company members who show initiative and a generous spirit have the chance to be chosen for various awards and scholarships at the end of the season through endowed funds at the USD Foundation called the BHP Extra Mile Awards.

All members of the BHP Company are expected to participate in any and all aspects of theatre production as needed. In addition, since we live in our own community in the middle of a forest, which means that company members are expected to assume their share of basic daily maintenance of the living quarters, dining hall, production shops, dressing rooms, and other facilities as needed. A duty roster system is utilized to assign people for many of these responsibilities and posted each Friday for the following week on the bulletin boards in the dining hall.
It is equally important that all company members conduct themselves in a mature and responsible manner in the social aspects of the community. Our campus is close to a public campground, we come in contact with many tourists, and it is expected that each member of the company uses good judgment in all areas of personal conduct. In 2011, the BHP Board of Directors adopted an alcohol and drug policy. Each member of the company will be required to read and sign a copy of the policy and will be expected to abide strictly to the policy.

Each season we try to offer a number of options for company activities in addition to long-standing traditional events at the BHP, all with the intention of making your time at the BHP a healthy, educational, and one-of-a-kind experience. You’ll hear more about these options at orientation.  But here are a number of dates to be aware of:


Annual Campus Clean-up                            Saturday, May 14, 2022

Grand Re-opening                                         Thursday, June 9, 2022   

Miscast Cabaret at the Custer Beacon        Sunday, June 26, 2022

Buff Test                                                         Saturday, July 2, 2022

Buff Day                                                          Sunday, July 3, 2022

Christmas                                                       Sunday, July 24, 2022

Extra Mile Awards                                          TBD

Dinner With Friends Fundraiser                   Sunday, August 14, 2022



Black Hills Playhouse Alums & Alumni Association
Over 4000 people have worked for the Black Hills Playhouse program over 76 years. Many of these people are now working in television and film, and in professional, educational, and community theatres throughout the nation. The BHP is proud of its reputation of being a quality regional theatre. We are also proud of our association with the College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota.

The Black Hills Playhouse Alumni Association is the not-for-profit organization that partners with the Black Hills Playhouse, Inc. to support operations and capital projects at the Black Hills Playhouse, keeps current addresses and historical records of company members, and plans milestone reunions. People are members by virtue of their association with the BHP (company or board members - there is no membership fee).  Since 1995, the BHPAA has raised over $350,000 for projects that have improved the Black Hills Playhouse. Playhouse alums often visit our campus.  Please do your best to make alums feel welcome.

BHP Policies & Important Stuff You Need to Know
Any rules that we issue are presented in the spirit of strengthening the unity of the company and are meant to be enforced through each company member’s personal discipline. Housing at the BHP is at a premium as we have lost a number of housing structures in recent years. Since company members live in close quarters and people of various ages are hired, it is important that people are respectful and do their best to follow dormitory rules. 

Dormitory Rules

  • NO OVERNIGHT GUESTS WITHOUT MANAGEMENT APPROVAL. If a disaster were to strike the camp, it is imperative that we know who is housed so we can ensure everyone’s safety in an emergency.

  • Due to our antiquated sewer system and to be more environmentally responsible, please keep showers short and conserve water as much as possible.

  • Do not overload circuits with electrical equipment.

  • Do not place any articles, bedding, etc. near heaters as this is a serious fire risk.

  • Turn off heat and lights in rooms when you leave in the morning. Saves $$ and the planet.

  • No pets for company members may be housed in dormitories with shared bedrooms and bathrooms without permission. 

  • Work as a team to keep your room, bathrooms, and hallways clean.  This is even more important during the ongoing pandemic.

  • Report problems and maintenance issues immediately on the maintenance log located on the bulletin boards in the dining hall. 

  • Be respectful of your neighbors and keep things quiet. People work hard and need to rest to stay healthy and alert on the job.

  • Take care of each other.


You will be expected to return your keys at the end of the summer. Any lost key will cost $5.00 to replace. Please do not lock the main entrances to the dorms or the laundry rooms.

Checking out at the end of the season
Before you can leave campus, your room must be cleaned and all Snack Bar accounts settled. You will be checked out by a staff member and responsible for any damage to rooms or furnishings. Failure to do so will result in the withholding of your final paycheck of the season.

Telephone & Internet
There is limited cell service in Custer State Park. We are in a low-lying mountain range in the middle of a forest. This means you cannot rely on your cell phone as a timepiece, alarm, or communications device. People should understand that when they call, they most likely will need to leave a message and wait for a company member to call back as people are not usually in physical proximity to the Business Office. This number will be provided during orientation. Please keep personal calls to a minimum. When possible, opt to iMessage or email. SMS texts may have a significant delay.

Our internet service’s primary function is for Business Office and Box Office use. Streaming is strongly discouraged as it consumes much of the bandwidth, leaving other company members unable to check their emails, pay bills, etc. People often go to nearby lodge properties to use the internet for these purposes. Be respectful and use the internet only as necessary. Internet and cell phone withdrawal is a common ailment for new company members!


Mail Boxes and Mailing Address
Company mail may be sent to the following address after Friday, May 20:

Black Hills Playhouse
24834 S Playhouse Rd
Custer, SD 57730

Please make sure that relatives and friends do not send mail to the billing address in Rapid City listed on our website. It might eventually arrive—but will take more time. Mailboxes are located in the dining hall. Outgoing mail should be placed in the outgoing box over the mailboxes by lunch or taken to the Box Office for pickup by noon. There is no direct mail service to our campus. We go offsite to deliver and retrieve mail, either to Custer or to our mailbox near one of the entrances in Custer State Park.

You can place a TEMPORARY change of address through your post office to have your mail forwarded to the BHP during the summer.  But, DO NOT at the end of the summer place a change-of-address through the Custer Post Office. The Custer Post Office will neither acknowledge temporary, summer change-of-address forms nor will they take change-of-address forms at the end of the summer.  We recommend having a friend or relative forward your mail. 


Custer State Park requires all vehicles entering the park to purchase and display a State Park Entrance License. This is a window sticker and allows you entrance to all of South Dakota’s State Parks. The Playhouse will provide one sticker to each company member who needs it for their personal vehicle as a benefit.


Other items of note

  • Unless it is for Playhouse business, please do NOT remove equipment from the production shops, dining hall, theater, or anywhere else without permission. 

  • BE MOST CAREFUL WITH FIRE! We live in a forest and conditions can be extremely dry.

  • No stick or non-safety matches.

  • Field strip cigarettes and cigars outside and throw butts in the nearest trash receptacle. 

  • Firecrackers, firearms, etc. are not allowed in Custer State Park.


  • Please avoid smoking around patrons.


When you come to the BHP, remember you will need to bring identification documents so we can establish your identity and employment authorization on an I-9 form. A valid passport will both establish identity and employment authorization. 


If you do not have a passport, you will need to present two of the following documents: A. driver's license or ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or a school ID card with a photograph AND B. a social security card (not a copy) or an original birth certificate, certification of birth abroad, or Native tribal document. We cannot issue paychecks until this has been filled out as a part of your orientation, so please, don't forget!

Daily Schedule
8:00am....Production Meeting - Dining Hall, Admin Meeting - Snack Bar

8:30am....Breakfast - Dining Hall (Mandatory)
9:30am....Rehearsal/Crews unless otherwise specified at breakfast announcements
12:00pm...Lunch - Dining Hall
1:30pm....Rehearsal/Crews unless otherwise specified
4:30pm....Break for Theater Clean-up
5:00pm....Dinner - Dining Hall
6:30pm....Show/Front of House Call unless otherwise specified
Post-Show…Snacks - Dining Hall


Sundays:  10:30am Production Meeting-Dining Hall, Admin Meeting - Snack Bar


1:00pm...Show/Front of House Call unless otherwise specified

5:00pm...Dinner - Dining Hall (EXCEPT before a day off when dinner is not served)


Days Off

In 2022, we reevaluated our production schedules with the goal of providing more days off and fewer late night work calls. Summer stock theatre is demanding, so it is important to use your time off to rest and recuperate. Days off are typically on our dark Mondays. For 2022, we have a 10 day “tech” period leading into Cinderella and Something Rotten. The day off for those “interim” weeks will be on Sunday.  The scheduled days off in 2022 are:


Monday, May 30

Monday, June 6 

Monday, June 13 

Monday, June 20

Monday, June 27

Monday, July 4

SUNDAY, July 10

Monday, July 18

Monday, July 25

Monday, August 1

SUNDAY, August 7

Monday, August 15



Items to Bring

  • Bed linens. We will send out a list of who needs what sizes of sheets after room assignments are made.

  • 2 or 3 blankets. It’s cold in June.

  • Pillows

  • Towels/washcloths

  • Clothes hangers

  • Toiletries

  • Area fan for your dorm room

  • Yoga or exercise mat 

  • Sunscreen 

  • Flashlight. It’s super dark in the forest!

  • Alarm clock. Your cell phone may not work as an alarm clock.


Clothing to Bring

  • Warm clothing, including coat, hat, & gloves. It’s often wet & cold in June. We recommend layering.

  • Raincoat. Seriously, you’ll want one.

  • Boots or overshoes. We’re in the forest, and it gets extremely muddy when it rains. Waterproof boots are highly recommended.

  • Shower shoes.

  • Cool clothes. Most spaces are not air-conditioned and it gets HOT in July and August. We recommend opening your windows and turning on the fan at night. Turn it off in the morning. 

  • Work clothes and closed-toe shoes. Everyone participates in strike, including management and customer service staff. Be prepared to get paint on you just in case. 

  • Nice clothes for usher duties and events. Everyone will partake in these duties.

  • Swimming attire. Center Lake is a quarter-mile away.

Volleyball, Capture the Flag, books, card games, frolf, games, journals, photography, hiking, visiting local attractions on days off, camp “holidays” and gatherings, campfires, and the list goes on. Remember, streaming is strongly discouraged. And, you’re in a gorgeous state park. Enjoy the outdoors!


On-stage Performers
Please bring your personal make-up kit, including everything from base to cold cream, from eye to lip liner.

●     MEN:
○   Dance shoes-black, tie up, low heel
○   Dance belt/jock strap
○   Dance rehearsal clothes; sweats, shoes

●     WOMEN:
○   Black character shoes
○   Foundation garments; bras, slips, girdles
○   Dance rehearsal clothes; sweats, leotard, etc.
○   Other shoes for use on stage


Sexual Harassment

Title IX of the U.S Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. §1681 is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. Discrimination based on sex, race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, gender identification, transgender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, or any other status that may become protected under law against discrimination is likewise prohibited.


Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can also include sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking, and sexual coercion. *The Black Hills Playhouse and University of South Dakota will strive to keep all reported information confidential, however it may not be able to guarantee such a request if in doing so may potentially jeopardize the safety of the campus community or if other legitimate reasons may necessitate such disclosure.


Compliance and Contact Info

The Black Hills Playhouse is dedicated to fostering an environment that respects the rights of all individuals and values the promotion of both work and educational environments free of gender bias. In accordance with federal and state laws and the policies of the South Dakota Board of Regents, the university takes an active role in addressing sexual violence both on and off-campus. This approach includes but is not limited to: the offering of effective programming designed to help prevent sexual assault, the prompt and efficient investigation of all reported incidents, and the providing of resources and services as well as any other reasonable assistance requested under Title IX. 


At the Black Hills Playhouse, the Artistic Director, Dan Workman, serves as the point of contact. He may be contacted at or by phone at 605 670-2005. At USD, the University Title IX Coordinator serves as the point of contact for those seeking information or wanting to report violations of human rights, acts of discrimination/harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking and other forms of sexual misconduct. If you have been subject to any type of sexual misconduct or would like more information on how the university can assist you, contact the Title IX coordinator:

Jean Merkle

Director of EEO/Title IX Coordinator

Slagle Hall 205

Phone: 605-658-3665



Any person who either files a complaint or is a witness and or involved in any stage of the investigative process will not be subject to harassment, interference, intimidation or retaliation.


In Conclusion
We sincerely look forward to meeting you or welcoming you back.  The company is the heart and soul of the work of the BHP and the art we create together is incredible. If you have any questions about anything else you think you'll need, please don't hesitate to contact Randy Niles ( or Dan Workman ( by email or at 605-255-4910. See you at the Playhouse!

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