Two local community theaters have decided that they’ve reached that point in their relationship where it is time to move in together. At least for a little while.
In an email sent to the Outpost last week, the leadership staff of North Coast Repertory Theatre (NCRT) announced that Redwood Curtain Theater will be moving its operations into the NCRT theater space on the corner of Fifth and D Streets in Eureka.
“Specifically what that means is that our building at 300 5th St will now be housing both companies, and we will be collaborating together to produce a joint season of theater in 2024,” Calder Johnson, managing artistic director for NCRT, wrote in the email.
The announcement comes about eight months after Redwood Curtain Theater (RCT) announced that it would be moving out of the space at 220 First Street in Old Town, which had been occupied by the theater company for 15 years, after learning that the building was being sold to new owners who had different plans for the space. Since then, Redwood Curtain has had no home and, with affordable spaces being hard to come by these days, many feared that the community theater company would have to close completely.
But after a series of conversations between the two theater companies, both agreed that the best way to keep Redwood Curtain going would be to house it in an existing theater space and allow NCRT to take some of the financial burden that comes with operating a theater.
In a phone conversation with the Outpost, Johnson said that he and Nanette Voss, executive director of Redwood Curtain, are longtime friends and collaborators and Johnson wanted to do anything that he could to help RCT stay open. Because NCRT is lucky enough to own its building, housing RCT seemed like the best possible option.
The move exemplifies how much local theater companies have been struggling. Already operating on shoestring budgets, many local theaters have been reeling from the additional financial burden brought on by COVID, which caused theaters to lose a lot of revenue. Another longrunning local theater company Dell’Arte International also recently announced that it’s facing a financial crisis, which prompted the company to lay-off half of its staff.
“It’s a time of great upheaval and that’s part of what prompted this decision,” Johnson told the Outpost. “When it’s a stormy time, you start trying to be each other’s lifeline.”
With the two theaters occupying the same space, Johnson said that they are rebranding the building as “D Street Theater,” which is something NCRT had been thinking about doing for a while. Since NCRT does already rent out the theater to other local production companies like Club Triangle and Va Va Voom Burlesque, Johnson thought it would make sense to separate the building itself from the theater company. His hope for D Street Theater is to be a community theater hub that can provide space for many local productions and events.
In announcing the creation of the D Street Theater, NCRT and RCT also announced the productions planned for the 2024 season, including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Sweeney Todd. Johnson said that he and Voss worked together to come up with the 2024 season, pulling together both companies’ list of potential productions and then picking the ones they were both interested in. You can view the full season calendar below.
Though it will surely take a while to work out all of the kinks that come with operating two theater companies under one roof, Johnson said that he is very excited for the change and for the upcoming season. As local theaters (and other local nonprofits and businesses) continue to navigate the financial landscape of our post-COVID reality, Johnson feels that adaptation and mutual support will be critical to keeping places up and running.
“We are being pushed into a new paradigm that is about sharing resources,” Johnson said. “We have to lean on each other, make these new partnerships… and we have to make sure we’re evolving and adapting.”