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History

Founded in 1978, Stages makes plays and tells stories that invite everyone to live more deeply and love more boldly. The common link throughout our work is a focus on sharing compelling human stories in intimate performance spaces that allow audiences to connect with both the art on stage and the people who help create it. 

Stages has grown to become Houston’s sixth largest nonprofit performing arts producer overall, and the largest outside of Houston’s downtown theater district. Stages is one of the region’s leading artistic employers, producing an average of 12 productions per year totaling more than 430 performances and welcoming 75,000+ visitors each season. In January 2020, Stages opened The Gordy, a new $35.4 million three-theater venue that will transform how Houston artists and audiences experience theater.

Almost all of Stages’ shows are rehearsed and constructed on-site in Houston, brought to life by an exceptional community of locally-based artists and crafts people along with occasional guest directors, actors and designers from around the world. For more than a decade Stages has made a strong investment in nurturing emerging artists and administrators who have now become field leaders and working professionals in companies around the country. 

Stages’ learning opportunities include our student matinee series, performance and production internship programs for college students and a conservatory each summer for middle and high school students. Through our community engagement initiatives, during the 2019-2020 Season nearly 20% of Stages audiences experienced our work free of charge through programs like free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre and Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival, a celebration of Latinx voices and stories reflecting Texas’s diverse communities.

Stages began life in the historic Magnolia Ballroom building in downtown Houston, led by Founding Artistic Director Ted Swindley and building on the passion and commitment of a talented group of artists. In 1985, Stages moved to a two theater facility in the historic Star Engraving Building on Allen Parkway, and became Houston’s second Equity theatre in 1988. 

Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin joined the company in 2001, serving as Managing Director for five years before becoming the theater’s longest-tenured artistic leader. Current Managing Director Mark Folkes arrived in 2015, positioning Stages for a new era of transformational growth.

 

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