Seattle's ACT Stays Open: Ailing Theatre Will Start 5-Play Season in July

News   Seattle's ACT Stays Open: Ailing Theatre Will Start 5-Play Season in July
The board of directors of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre (known by its abbreviated moniker ACT) have raised the $1.5 million needed to keep their theatre open, according to the Seattle Times. The venue will also stage a five-play season, starting in July.

Susan Trapnell, who helped raise the needed funds, was appointed ACT's managing director, a position she held from 1982 to 2000. Kurt Beattie, the former ACT associate artistic director, will now serve as the new artistic director.

The 38-year-old downtown Seattle theater complex — which houses four working performance spaces — had announced Feb. 14 that the non-profit company had merely $3,000 remaining assets and estimated a $1.7 million debt outstanding, said Katherine Janeway and Sheena Aebig, co-chairs of ACT's board. To continue running, it would need to come up with $1.5 million by Feb. 21.

The board agreed to donate $40,000 personally to help alleviate the venue's financial woes, allowing the company to pay its skeleton crew and keep the ailing venue afloat for at least a month. But, there was still a need for large financial support from major backers.

Factors that contributed to the company's financial troubles included a move from its home in 1996 from lower Queen Anne to its new complex in the Eagles building, at Seventh Avenue and Union Street. In January, the theatre announced its mainstage season would run on a September-May schedule. As stated in a release, "Over the past two years, ACT's subscription and donation revenues, have grown, but not enough to keep pace with mounting expenses driven up by the increased price tag of quality productions."

The company has recently produced works like Syringa Tree, which transferred to a critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway run, and the world premiere of David Ives' Polish Joke, which now plays at Manhattan Theatre Club. Robert Egan, former Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum Producing Director and Director of New Play Development, became ACT's artistic director in October of 2002. He was released from contract in January. Egan replaced Gordon Edelstein, who has since returned to his roots at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre.

For more information on the company, visit

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