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AlterTheater Ensemble

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AlterTheater Ensemble


East Bay


Founded by five artists in 2004, AlterTheater got its start producing new and contemporary plays in downtown San Rafael storefronts. The company was established with the mission to support artists outside of the dominant culture, intentionally centering Black and Indigenous voices.

AlterTheater has been commissioning plays since 2008, and in 2011 launched the first iteration of its flagship yearlong playwright residency program, AlterLab. AlterLab supports writers through the process of working on a self-identified creative risk or challenge they wish to take with their work. Residents are offered a fee, time, readings, and a supportive community to reflect with as they write a new play. Historically, AlterTheater has produced, on average, 75% of all work created and developed in AlterLab. Half of the program’s commissioned writers have later landed on American Theatre’s list of most produced plays/playwrights, and all of the AlterLab writers have gone on to win, been finalists, or received honorable mentions for local, regional, and national awards, including the Relentless Award, Rella Lossy, Princess Grace, and USA Pen Literary Award in Drama. 

Since its inception, AlterTheater has focused on shifting local and national notions of which stories should be told onstage and by whom. Even today, our programs and organizational structure are still poised to address inequities that exist in our field and region. Our top concern is supporting BIPOC theater artists, which is not a singular external imperative but a daily practice for our ensemble. Like many theater artists, we have endured harmful experiences on staff and in productions as artists. AlterTheater creates a space to create new possibilities for ourselves as administrators, the artists we collaborate with, and the communities we serve—from our Bay Area audiences to our network of artists and the communities they write from.

AlterTheater seeks to create a more just, more equitable community by: n supporting the creative growth of theater artists from historically underrepresented communities; n telling stories that reflect the full complexity and diversity of our community; and sharing stories with our full community, in places where people are.

We believe that artists are essential in creating a more just and equitable existence throughout the 9 county Bay Area.

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