A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) is dedicated to producing relevant works on contemporary themes. ACT nurtures new and seasoned artists, collaborates with promising playwrights and local performing artists working in a variety of media, and connects audiences to many stages of the creative process.
A Contemporary Theatre – ACT was founded in the summer of 1965 by Gregory A. Falls (1922-1997), head of the University of Washington’s theater department at the time. The theatre thrived in a former community hall at the base of Queen Anne Hill until 1996 when they moved into their new home, the historic Eagles Auditorium in downtown Seattle. The Eagles Auditorium Building is an eight-story historic theatre and apartment building built in 1924-25. Designed by noted local architect Henry Bittman, it was erected by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Seattle Aerie No. 1 in 1924-25. Since its construction, the Eagles Temple was in continuous use as the lodge for F.O.E. Aerie No. 1 until August, 1981. The building also has a national history for those who have spoken or held concerts at this location. The Eagles Auditorium is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at his one and only visit to Seattle on November 10, 1961. The building served as a major rock concert venue from the mid-1960s until 1970. Some of the legendary rock bands that utilized the venue included The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Chicago, Richard Berry, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, and more. For ACT, the building provides five performance spaces, supporting our mission to nurture new and seasoned artists and connecting audiences to many stages of the creative process.
ACT produces five primary programs: Mainstage, ACTLab, Young Playwrights Program (YPP), Core Company, and the New Work initiative to fulfill our mission and supports these with multiple complementary initiatives to engage audiences, develop new works, and keep the art accessible.
Six plays each year with over 300 in our rich history including 49 World Premieres. The Mainstage Plays epitomize ACT’s reputation for presenting innovative, challenging, entertaining and relevant work. We are a contemporary theatre because of our contributions to new works and because of the relevant, contemporary themes we explore in classic material. Our 2017 Season premiered Moby Pomerance’s play Alex & Aris, a play that was commissioned by ACT, developed, workshopped and then produced. Likewise, King of the Yees by Lauren Yee, began in the ACTLab in 2015, went on to a World Premiere at the Goodman Theatre and returned to ACT for our 2017 Season.
ACTLab is a curated partnership program that fills our multi theatre venue with innovative theatrical experiences off the path traveled by the mainstage. By forming financial and artistic partnership. ACTLab serves as Seattle’s incubator for individual artist and theatre companies to experiment, grow, and reach new audiences by cultivating new ideas and experimentation in a collaborate environment.
YPP started in 2002 and upgraded the curriculum to meet state learning standards in 2015. The YPP is an integrated 10-week, 20 class program that serves 6th through 12th grade students in both public and private schools in the Puget Sound area. Our program embeds teaching artists in school classrooms teaching the art of play writing. YPP builds confidence which, research suggests, positively impacts other areas of learning. Every student writes a play. Many of the plays are read at school events including evening programs and school day assemblies. Eight plays are selected for ACT’s Young Playwrights Festival produced in March and as many as ten additional plays are selected for production at our partner theatres.
Launched in 2016, the Core Company is an annually selected group of actors. Its purpose is to encourage an environment of artistic excellence, while creating a home for local actors to experiment and grow over the course of the season. Core Company Members are guaranteed at least two shows in the season, and serve as artistic ambassadors. They represent ACT at audience and community engagement events, serve as spokespeople for ACT’s Mainstage productions, and support the greater mission of ACT.
A Christmas Carol: In 1976, ACT inaugurated an annual Seattle holiday tradition with Gregory Falls’s own adaptation of the classic script by Charles Dickens and has continued every holiday season since. This classic favorite has become a holiday tradition for many in Seattle.
ACT supports our primary programs with our Core Company, Engagement Programs, the New Works Initiative, and Discount Ticketing.