The Austin Little Theater (and the “Austin Community Players”) is believed to been formed in 1932 and was part of the “Little theater movement” across the State of Texas and the country. Peter Mansbendel was the first artistic director for the Austin Little Theater and he built and painted most of the sets used in their productions. He was also known to sing and perform in their productions. The “Austin Little Theater” was the forerunner to Austin’s “Zach Scott theater”, now known simply as the “Zach Theater”.
Lower left photo
From the Austin Statesman Feb 21, 1934
AS MISS CORNELL WAS GREETED with flowers and smiles, Katherine Cornell and her leading man, Basil Rathbone, were welcomed to AUSTIN Wednesday afternoon by Little theater officers and members of the cast “Camille” forthcoming production. Here is the group just after Ray E. Lee had presented Miss Cornell with a bouquet on the grounds of the Little Theater: From left to right: R.H. Haddaway: Roy Pierce: Basil Rathbone, Miss Cornell’s leading man: Miss Bess Jo Chewning, Dr. Frank Miller Chapman, Miss Elizabeth West, Mrs. Ray E. Lee,, The “Camille” of the Austin Little Theater’s production of the play: Miss Dorothy Shelby, Mr. William F. Frees, president of the Austin Little Theater: Mr. William Arms, Miss
Katherine Cornell, Lawerence James Wathan Jr, guest director for “Camille”: Zach Scott, leading man for “Camille”; Miss Jean Merriam, Miss Josephine Theis, Peter Mansbendel, art director of the Austin Little Theater