Leland Starnes came to Salisbury State College in 1972 with impressive credentials and the intention of bringing one big production to the stage each year. Starnes established the Salisbury State Theatre, which he viewed as a “repertory company in a professional environment.” Starnes charged admission to the productions, dispersed promotional brochures with season tickets, and created a program for sponsor memberships.
He was passionate about theatre and devoted himself to the Salisbury program, stating, “We’re determined that the new Salisbury State Theatre will be for everyone a place of rich vitality and joy. Significant theatre–if it is indeed significant–must be an event that its audiences attend with a sense of pleasurable anticipation and excitement rather than from any heavy awareness of duty or ‘cultural enrichment’; truly fine theatre, we all know, arouses, within its viewers of every level, the excited curiosity to see even the direct truth carried out to its logical culmination because of its very theatricality. This is the wild and free kind of theatre that we’re going to try like hell to bring to Salisbury State in our new season.”