Launched in 1963 by an ambitious community drama group, CENTERSTAGE soon became a leader in the regional theater movement, working 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 producing theater, welcoming nearly 100,000 people each season to our award-winning facility in Baltimore’s historic Mt. Vernon Cultural District. CENTERSTAGE produces a wide variety of events each season, presented in two intimate state-of-the-art auditoriums: the 541-seat Pearlstone Theater and the flexible-configuration 298-seat Head Theater. CENTERSTAGE continues to attract 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 the theater “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. Season memberships start at $60, and single tickets cost as little as $10. The theater even offers Pay-What-You- Can days, when theatergoers literally set their own ticket prices.
In addition to educational 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.
The 20-year tenure of Artistic Director Irene Lewis was one of explosive growth. Creative 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 a broadly representative audience of diverse individuals heightens the experience of theater, Lewis made diversity on stage, on the staff, and in the audience a central institutional priority.
The 2011-12 Season marked the arrival of new Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, an internationally recognized playwright, director, and arts advocate. Even in periods of economic downturn, CENTERSTAGE has maintained a record of break-even or better operation, and our future is as inspiring as our past. Under the new leadership of Kwei-Armah, CENTERSTAGE continues to offer challenging, bold work onstage, enhanced by extensive community engagement to ensure its position as Baltimore’s preeminent professional theater company.