New Surry Theatre (NST) was founded in 1972 by actor/director Bill Raiten. NST began as a theater school, with students coming from Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and California. The acting lessons that first summer culminated in ten sold-out performances of Fiddler On the Roof in a rustic barn in Surry, Maine.
The 70’s and 80’s brought year-round acting classes, summer theater camps, and summer repertory seasons in Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Ellsworth, and many other Maine towns as well as in St. Andrews, Canada.
In 1989, Raiten was invited to live in Leningrad as a guest director for the winter theatrical season. This invitation came from a visiting Russian director who saw NST’s 1988 repertory season in Maine. NST agreed to send Raiten to direct professional Soviet actors in plays that were not available to the Russian people before Glasnost.
Raiten was then invited to bring twenty-five actors of NST to the USSR for a two-week “Performances-For-Peace” tour where they performed songs and scenes from American plays and musicals. NST then brought their Russian hosts and fellow actors and musicians to visit America during the summer of 1990. NST booked performances for their Russian guests in Maine, New York, Canada and California.
In 1992, NST created Theatre Arts WORKS (TAW), a program that used theater and computers to help at-risk youth. TAW was 85% successful in getting at-risk youth back to school or into a lasting job. TAW produced the full-length musicals Annie, Music Man, Oliver!, Fiddler On The Roof, Little Shop Of Horrors, and Man Of La Mancha before funding ended in July, 2000.
NST's 2017-2018 marks eleven years in the Blue Hill Town Hall Theater. Four or five season plays are produced year-round as well as four or five staged readings, two sessions of the Performing Arts School, a theater intensive for teens (Youth Theater Speak) and a summer musical theater camp.