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CENTERSTAGE is an artistically driven institution, producing and developing an eclectic repertory in collaboration with leading theater artists for a diverse audience, interested in challenging, bold, thought-provoking work.
Values central to our mission are:
- The centrality of the artistic vision to all institutional decision making
- A rigorous pursuit of excellence in all we do
- The courage to take risks
- A commitment to diversity
Launched in 1963 by an ambitious community drama group, CENTERSTAGE soon became a leader in the regional theater movement, whose goal was to produce first-rate professional theater in communities across America. Along with theaters like The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Arena Stage in Washington, and Alley Theatre in Houston, CENTERSTAGE changed the way Americans experience serious theater.
In the years since its founding, CENTERSTAGE has not only survived its growing pains--including a potentially disastrous arson fire in 1974--it has become Baltimore's leading professional theater, welcoming more than 100,000 people each season to our award-winning theater in Baltimore's historic Mt. Vernon Cultural District. Fueled by the vision of Irene Lewis, who took over as Artistic Director in the 1991-92 Season, CENTERSTAGE presents a six-play Mainstage Season--as well as First Look, a new play reading series--in two intimate state-of-the-art auditoriums: the 541-seat Pearlstone Theater and the smaller, flexible-configuration Head Theater. CENTERSTAGE attracts the finest actors, directors, and designers from all over the country.
With history and the national press on our side--The Wall Street Journal called us "a model of what regional theater can and should be"--CENTERSTAGE holds fast to its original goal of putting art before commerce. Accordingly, while production quality is high, prices are low. Subscriptions to the season start at $60, and single tickets cost as little as $10. The theater even offers Pay-What-You-Can performances, when theatergoers literally can set their own ticket prices.
The tenure of Lewis has been one of explosive growth. Work--whether classics, new plays, or musical theater pieces--involves collaborative teams of emerging and established artists who create theater that confronts the universal and often difficult questions we all face. Recognizing that the audience is the final collaborator, and that a broadly representative audience of diverse individuals heightens the experience of theater, Lewis has made diversity on stage, on the staff, and in the audience a central institutional priority.
In addition to programs for students and teachers, CENTERSTAGE offers a variety of special series designed to enhance the theater-going experience. These programs are just a slice of the broad behind-the-scenes commitments to diversity, community, entrepreneurial spirit, and audience service that support our artistic mission.
Even in periods of economic downturn, CENTERSTAGE has maintained a record of break-even or better operation for thirty consecutive years. And our future is as promising as our past. Under the leadership of both Lewis and Managing Director Debbie Chinn, CENTERSTAGE offers another challenging new season of smart, bold works and extensive community engagement to ensure its position as Baltimore's preeminent theater company.
- Mandy Benedix
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