Outreach FAQ

What is the BHP Touring Outreach / Dakota Players?


Dakota Players is a professional touring children’s theatre company based in Sioux Falls, SD. The company, previously known as The Children’s Theatre Company of South Dakota, was founded in 1999 by Dan and Deb Workman. The goals of the company are two-fold. First, to bring professional level theatre experiences to school age children, especially those who lack access to arts programming and performing opportunities. Second, to provide employment opportunities to Midwest based artists.




What kind of residencies do you offer?


Dakota Players’ primary program is the Performance Residency. Two professional actor/directors lead up to 50 local youth through five days of intensive rehearsal; learning dialogue, songs and staging for an original musical production that will be presented at the end of the week. There are roles suitable for a variety of age and experience levels.

Dakota Players’ is also happy to offer the Workshop Residency. This residency offers your school or community a week of theatre fun and exploration in the form of skill-building theatre games and workshops. This is a great way to reach a larger group of students and begin building basic skills in theatre, public speaking, creative thinking and language. Workshops are led by our touring actor/director team.




Who books a residency?


We work with many different community groups to bring the excitement of theatre to your children. Public and private schools, local arts councils, community theaters, after-school programs, Lions Clubs, 4-H clubs, public libraries, PTO and PTA groups are just a few examples. If you are an individual looking to bring this experience to your community, look to partner with a larger group to help with planning, financing and securing performance space.




How do I book a residency?


Go to the Bookings / Tour Schedule page on to submit your information. Alternitavely, you may also call us at 605.255.4910 or send an email to edu@blackhillsplayhouse.com.

We will be happy to help you reserve a week on our touring schedule. All residencies are booked on a first come, first served basis, so contact us today to find out about availability.




Where can I find financial support to help fund a residency?


As South Dakota based artists, we are proud to be included on the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in Schools and Communities roster and also their Touring Arts roster. Grant opportunities are available for non-profit groups in South Dakota through these two programs.

For those outside of South Dakota, we are always searching for ways to help interested sponsors fund this exciting program. Contact your state arts or humanities council for information and help securing a grant for your community. We're happy to offer any assistance we can!




If my organization is non-profit why would I be charged a sales tax?


Only the following entities are exempt from sales and use tax: public schools, religious and private schools that have been approved for exempt status, Indian tribes, US government agencies, public or municipal corporations of the state, universities or technical schools supported by the state.

Civic and nonprofit associates are not exempt from sales tax.




We've booked a residency! Now what?


You will be receiving a digital Letter of Understanding from our office, please read all the information thoroughly and send us back your signed copy. Later you will receive a press kit link that will give you many resources to plan your residency week. Make sure you have housing secured for the actor/director team in either a hotel or a home stay. Ensure that rehearsal and performance space will be free for the week. Promote auditions and the performances with the posters and press releases provided in your press kit. Contact Dakota Players if you have any questions.




Who leads the residency?


The Dakota Players tour team is comprised of two adult, professional actor/directors. They are typically college graduates with experience in performance and/or education. They are trained to give your students the best possible residency experience and Dakota Players holds them to a high standard of professionalism. The team will conduct auditions, lead rehearsals, and act with students in the final performances.




What are the touring team's housing requirements?


It will be the responsibility of the sponsor to house the team starting the Sunday before the residency begins through the following Saturday night. Keep in mind that the next sponsor on the tour will not have housing available for the team until the Sunday before their residency begins, so it is necessary for the team to have a place to stay through the entire week regardless of schedule variations.

The team may be housed in either a hotel or a home stay. Each director must have their own private bedroom. (If the team is a married couple, you will be informed ahead of time.) Hotels may agree to provide complimentary rooms or a discounted rate for the week. Contact them well in advance to discuss this possibility. A home stay can also be a great experience for all involved. Families that invite the team to stay with them can offer an inside view of the community and provide a home-like atmosphere for the team. Great friendships often spring up from these visits! The team is responsible for their own meals during the week, but may gladly accept an invitation for meal if it fits in their rehearsal schedule.




Our school does not have a stage. Will we still be able to have a performance?


Our team travels with everything they could need to have a successful performance. This includes set, costumes, lights, sound equipment, props and tools. Our set can easily adapt to any reasonably large, open playing area. We've created stages in gyms, community centers and VFW halls! If you have any concerns about your available space, ask the Tour Manager for more information.




Do we need to book an accompanist?


No. The team travels with everything they could need for a performance, including a sound system and fully orchestrated version of the score. You will not need to secure an accompanist for either rehearsals or performances.




Do students need to prepare something for auditions?


No. Everyone auditions together at the same time. This allows the team to see where each child will fit best in the cast, and makes the best use of time for everyone involved. The team will help potential cast members learn lines from the show and also guide them throw some basic music and movement. The only thing you need to bring is your energy and a positive attitude!




Do students need to attend all of the rehearsals?


Due to the quick pace and firm rehearsal schedule we follow during the week, it will not be possible to give parts to students who cannot be at auditions. The actor/director team uses the audition time to carefully consider which part is right for each student, so it is vital that everyone interested in participating be present.




How many students can be casted in a show?


​All of our shows have parts for 50 students maximum and 20 students minimum. There will also be opportunities for up to 4 older students to serve as assistant directors, supporting the actor director team and working with sound and lights.

We want to ensure that each student has an enriching experience, and raising the number of participating students would impede the quality of instruction and personal attention the actor/director team is able to provide.




What if my student is not cast in the show?


We never want to “cut” any willing participant, but sometimes the number of students interested is far greater than what the team or the script can accommodate to ensure a successful show. The actor/director team has a difficult task in these moments, and they take great care to handle the situation as compassionately and professionally as they can. We've been touched by parents of children we were not able to accommodate who tell us this provided them with a “teaching moment”.

If there is obviously a great demand for a program of this nature in your community, consider booking more than one residency week, or booking a Workshop Residency that can accommodate a greater number of participants.




Is there anyway to involve more than 50 students?


Of course! Try creating a publicity group to help print and distribute posters, contact local media, take tickets, print out programs and helping audience members to their seats.

If you would like to reach a much larger number of students in your school or community, consider hosting a Workshop Residency. The actor/director team will be able to work with many classes and age groups throughout the week, exploring theatre basics and character building through engaging workshops and games.




What ages may participate in the residency?


Our scripts are accessible to any age range between Kindergarten and 12th grade. Each local sponsor may choose to limit the age range to best serve a particular group. ​




When and how long are the rehearsals?


​The Dakota Players team works with students for four hours a day. These four hours are split into two-hour sessions with a break in between. During the school year, most rehearsals begin immediately after school. If your school finishes the day at 3:15pm, for example, rehearsal would probably begin at 3:30pm and go until 5:30pm. There would be a half hour dinner/snack break, followed by rehearsal from 6:00-8:00pm. During the summer, a common rehearsal schedule would be 9:30-11:30am. There would be a half hour lunch/snack break, followed by a second rehearsal session from 12:00-2:00pm. Not every cast member needs to be at every rehearsal session. A schedule letter will be sent home with each child at the end of auditions. This letter will show when your student needs to be at rehearsal.




When is the performance?


Performances can be held on Fridays, Saturdays or a combination of the two. Your Dakota Players contract guarantees two performances, if you would like them, but you may also choose to have just one. Local sponsors are responsible for setting the performance times they feel work best for their community. We are available at any time to offer help and guidance choosing a performance time.

There can be no performances on Sundays, as that is the team’s travel day.




What show are you performing?


All of Dakota Players’ shows have been specially commissioned for our company and are written by artists from the Midwest. Our show season goes from September to August. Go to the “On Tour Now” page of this website to see what show is currently on the road.




Can I request a specific show?


Not at this time. We currently tour one show per year. Our season starts in late May and runs through the following May. We regularly commission new shows for the tour. Since 1999, we've developed nine original musical productions for our tours!




What should we charge for admission?


​Dakota Players does not charge admission for its shows, but local sponsors may set an admission price. This often helps defray the cost of a residency fee. When setting an admission price, consider what will be reasonable for your community. Speak with us for ideas.




Is it possible to record my student's performance in the show?


​Family and friends may video tape a performance, as long as equipment does not block the view of other audience members, powers do not block walkways, and there are no bright lights. These recordings should be for personal home use only. Sponsors may not record performances with the intention of selling copies, unless they have made specific arrangements with Dakota Players.

Flash photography is not allowed during performances. There will be a photo call immediately after the show, when everyone will have a chance to take pictures of the cast.




Do you offer additional theater workshops?


Add On Workshops are available during the week. The cost is $80 per workshop lasting approximately 45 minutes. Workshops must not conflict with rehearsal or performance times during a Performance Residency (the best days for those workshops are Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday). Please contact Dakota Players if you are interested in holding any workshops.




Is it really possible to learn an entire show in a week?


YES! You'll be amazed at how quickly your students take to the words and music of our scripts. We've been developing effective rehearsal techniques for over a decade. Every rehearsal is planned down to the minute and we always aim to keep things moving forward with great energy!




Who is Lenny?


Dakota Players got its start in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Custer State Park is home to 1,500 buffalo; also known by their scientific name, bison. Surprisingly, a buffalo living in Custer State Park named Lenny showed a keen interest in theatre and decided to leave the Hills for a life on the stage. Lenny was part of our very first show “The Missing Mountain Mystery” and he’s been our mascot ever since. You’ll see him in all of our logos!





The Black Hills Playhouse, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to deliver exceptional theatre programs that engage diverse people and strengthen South Dakota communities.

NOTE:  CUSTER STATE PARK PASSES REQUIRED FOR ENTRANCE AT THE PLAYHOUSE

They may be purchased at the BHP, at most entrances of the Park and online HERE.

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