About Jonesborough Repertory Theatre

Our Mission

We believe that theatre is an opportunity to bring people together and to make their lives better. We strive to create quality community theatre that uplifts, inspires, and lightens the lives of the families in our audiences, as well as those of our own theatre family behind the scenes. We are committed to creating a nurturing environment for seasoned and developing artists. The plays and musicals we perform, classes and workshops we teach, and special events we host are dedicated to enriching the lives of our East Tennessee community, and beyond. 

Vision Statement

JRT:  Where artistic expression builds community and enhances the quality of life for all.

Our History

In the winter of 1969, a group of volunteers worked together to take part in Tennessee’s Statehood Days celebration. Former Jonesborough mayor, Jimmy Neil Smith, wrote This Then is Tennessee, a play that was performed at the statehood celebration in front of ten thousand people in Nashville’s Centennial Park. With the creation of that play, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre was established. The inaugural season launched in 1970. Performances took place in the courthouse. Due to the setting, a string of courtroom dramas ensued. Soon the theatre moved into its current location, a former casket factory on the main street of Jonesborough, which provided a sixty-seat theatre-in-the-round.

During the 1970s, popular television actor and director Timothy Busfield (Thirtsysomething, The West Wing) established JRT’s children’s theatre. 1988 brought a remodel of the theatre that included dressing rooms and a traditional proscenium stage. In 2000, JRT went through a renaissance that brought further improvements to the building and hosted a ninety-person-cast, original production of Toward the Setting Sun, a dramatic musical about Jonesborough’s earliest days. In 2003, JRT began a partnership with the Town of Jonesborough. This collaboration led to wonderful growth at JRT: further building renovations, a costume shop, education courses, and relationships with local theatres.   

As we approach our fiftieth year, JRT continues to flourish. With eight main stage productions a season, a traveling theatre troupe, education classes for school children, and a theatre outreach to senior citizens, we have seen incredible growth in the last few years, and have become a staple part of Tennessee’s oldest town. We eagerly look forward to the renovations of the next door Jackson Theatre, a remodeled entertainment facility that will nearly double our current capacity. As we look to the future, we embrace the opportunity for greater artistic excellence and community service, all the while remaining rooted in the values of the rich past we have inherited.

Interpreted Shows for the Deaf

The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is pleased to announce that they will be offering an American Sign Language interpreted show for each of their productions. It will be scheduled for the final Saturday evening performance. In order to retain our interpreter and to hold those designated seats, reservations must be made three weeks in advance of the show. The seats will be in the front row (A 13-16). To reserve these seats, please call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010.

Theatre Staff


Jennifer Ross- Bernhardt
Artistic Director

Janette Gaines
Director of Education

Lucas Schmidt
House Manager

staff photo.jpg

Pam Johnson
Publicity Coordinator


Madelyn Goward
Box Office Manager


JRT Board

Kelly Wolfe

Terry Countermine

Janette Gaines

Hal Knight

Josh Baldwin

Nancy Kavanaugh

Sharon Squibb

Darrell Fowler

Joe Carr

Krista Wharton