Theatre History and Background
Stages Theatre Company (STC) was founded in 1984 in the western suburbs of Minneapolis out of a need for quality theatre programming for children. For more than 25 years, it has significantly broadened its reach and scope, involving young people in the theatre arts through opportunities on stage, backstage, in the audience and in the classroom.
STC has grown to become the third largest nonprofit theatre producer in Minnesota and one of the largest professional theatres for young audiences in the country. During the coming year, it will serve approximately 130,000 young people and their families from throughout the Twin Cities.
Between 1984 and 1997, STC held most of its performances at the Eisenhower Community Center in Hopkins, Minn. During the 1990s, STC took shape into a fully professional theatre company. By developing collaborations with a wide variety of organizations, STC was able to significantly expand the scale and extent of the theater’s programming.
In the mid-1990s, a unique collaboration by STC, the City of Hopkins, and the Hopkins School District planned and designed the Hopkins Center for the Arts (HCA), the current home of STC. Steve Barberio, former artistic director, led community efforts to design and fund the $4.3 million, 37,000 square foot, multi-disciplinary arts facility located in downtown Hopkins. Today, this new facility has been widely credited as the catalyst for the rebirth of downtown Hopkins.
Since moving to the HCA in 1997, STC has significantly grown artistically and broadened its audience base. In addition to the main stage, HCA also houses a black box studio space (Hopkins Jaycees Studio), where STC is able to present more intimate and dramatic material that would not have the same impact if produced on the main stage. The black box studio is the venue for productions dealing with subject matter that demands a more intimate environment, such as A Holocaust Mosaic (an original piece based on the poetry, prose and other writings from the Holocaust) and Stone Hearts (a piece commissioned that portrays a Muslim family’s struggles during the Bosnian War).
During the last 15 years, STC has increased its annual attendance from 20,000 to almost 90,000, grown the annual operating budget from $100,000 to more than $1.8 million, dramatically increased the size of full-time staff, and significantly expanded the theatre’s production, education and outreach offerings. In addition to its acclaimed main stage productions, STC also offers an Acting Conservatory Program, community workshops, summer and winter theatre workshops and school outreach programs.
Today, STC is recognized as a leader in theatre, education and production programming for children and young adults, and has received a number of regional and national awards and grants. The National Endowment for the Arts supports its work, awarding grants for both productions and school outreach programming. STC was the recipient of the 2001 Award for Arts Organization Excellence in Educational Programming from the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education; in 2004, the editors of MPLS.ST.PAUL Magazine selected STC as the “Best Kid’s Theater” in the Twin Cities; in 2008, Minnesota Parent Magazine voters chose STC as “Best Children’s Theatre” and in 2009 STC was awarded “Nonprofit of the Year.”