Camille Sams Lightner

Meet Camille


Our beloved home to productions since 1964, the theatre is proudly named for Mrs. Camille Sams Lightner. She was born Camille Sams in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1913, and grew up in New Rochelle, New York. She graduated in 1934 from Connecticut College for Women. Camille came to the Valley with her parents to spend the Christmas of 1933 with her sister and brother-in-law, Gladys and Dean Porter. During the holidays, Camille met and fell in love with a young produce man, Larry Lightner. They were married following her graduation and moved to Texas to become Texans. In time, she had two fine sons, Earl Sams Lightner and Larry Lightner, Jr.

Theatre was among Camille's many great loves. She was a regular performer with the annual Junior Service League  Follies, and had a great voice for the stage. It was a huge loss for the community when

Camille passed in December 1962. When Camille's sister, Gladys Porter, asked Camille's good friend and fellow performer, Henri DeStefano, what should be built in Camille's memory, Henri replied: 

"Camille loved the theatre, build her a theatre."

The City of Brownsville provided the land in Dean Porter Park and the Sams Foundation provided a grant to fund the construction of the facility which opened its doors in January 1964. With a drive to stimulate interest in theatre through production of stage performances and the development and application of the arts necessary to such productions, utilizing the talents and abilities of those in the Brownsville community and neighboring communities with a passion for the art, thereby engaging audiences in the artistic process, sparking the imaginations of young children and developing the next generation of stage actors, we are proud to be carrying on Camille's dream and legacy of having community theatre in Brownsville, TX. Camille's legacy remains our primary mission and guides us in all we do. 

Board of Directors

Roy De los Santos, President
Lisa Esteve, Vice-President
Bruno Zavaleta, Treasurer
Sylvia Lester, Secretary
Judy Coyne
Martie DiGregorio
Lilia Garcia*
Michelle L. Garcia
Elka Jaross
Robin Gelfer Pierce
Eduardo Rodriguez
David Salinas
Dr. Philip G. Samponaro, Jr.
Jeanette Tamayo
Dillon E. Vanderford
*executive board member