But it can no longer be considered an upstart. Once the newest and smallest professional arts organization in the region, now it's neither. It is, however, confident in its understanding of what it is and what it does.
The company was founded by
Certainly most of the 55 productions they've staged have been in a progressive, contemporary vein, featuring modern playwrights and challenging themes. The company persevered through the recession that severely damaged numerous arts groups.
"It's an incredible feeling to have achieved the level of success and stability that we have while doing the kind of work that we really believe in," Gularte said.
The intimacy has been a useful necessity, what with its first home being the claustrophobic, 115-seat lower-level theater on the Delta King in Old Sacramento next door to a raucous murder mystery dinner theater. In 2011
That move positioned the company to embrace a future of growth and stability. However, last year Gularte decided to step down from her artistic director position and away from the day-to-day duties of running the company. The board launched a national search for her successor but ultimately didn't have to look far when Williams, Gularte's husband and then the company's technical director, asked to be looked at for the artistic leadership position. Hiring Williams gave the company institutional continuity, and
Williams took over at the beginning of this year. . The 2014-15 Cap Stage season, which opens this week with Williams' production of
Sitting at a midtown restaurant near the theater, Williams reflected on
"Thinking about all the hours in the trenches with Stephanie and Peter and myself, there's a lot of pride and a great feeling," Williams said. "The biggest thing I've been thinking about lately -- and it's the most profound piece to me as I'm settling into the producing artistic director position -- is how
The company has grown steadily while honing an artistic aesthetic. The
"Before, if I wanted to call a company meeting, I called Peter and invited him over to our house. Now a company meeting means that we are bringing in more than a dozen people," Williams said.
With four full-time employees and six part-time year-round employees, the company will also employ approximately 80 contract artists and crew members on a per-show basis during the season.
"Any arts organization has to carry that balance back and forth between the artistic goals and the financial needs and strike some kind of balance," Williams said.
Cap Stage has produced plays by major name writers such as
When in the first year Cap Stage did the warm and fuzzy "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," it left the company members feeling cold and clammy, so they drew a line in the sand for themselves.
"We decided we had do this on our terms or just stop," Williams said. "If there was an audience here in
The company made seasonal adjustments with "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)," "It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play" and
The company made that approach work to the point that Williams and the staff are now formalizing what was simply anecdotal.
"I have a binder that I carry around and I call it 'How to
"We're creating the job descriptions that were previously unspoken because we started out so grass roots."
Williams observed that theater has been better able to creatively adapt to modern economics than other art forms, with playwrights writing smaller-cast plays, which are more cost-effective to produce.
"The way that theater has evolved has really helped companies like ourselves,
"We survive because we are 125 seats. We know what that audience is. We're not trying to fill the
"Understanding the audience but having an evolving product that we're able to provide without ever betraying what the art form is, that is a big part of it. It feels like a really healthy theatrical environment here right now, especially for the size of the city."
"I no longer have any doubt in my mind that Cap Stage is going to survive," Williams said. "The brand is really strong, who we are is really well defined, that's going to continue on now."
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