Seattle Culture

ACT Contemporary Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Co. May Merge

Potential partnership would unite the organizations in ACT’s current home

By Rob Smith June 5, 2024

A promotional image featuring the logos of Seattle Shakespeare Co. and ACT Contemporary Theatre with an audience in the background, celebrating their exciting theatre merger.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

ACT Contemporary Theatre and the Seattle Shakespeare Co. have announced plans to explore a merger.

“This is not only about ACT and Seattle Shakespeare, but also about the city of Seattle,” says ACT Artistic Director John Langs. “We see this as a first step to becoming an arts center in the heart of the city. We feel this is out of the box, collaborative thinking where all parties benefit, and that the real winner will be this great city.”

The boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the exploration process. If a merger does take place, Seattle Shakespeare Co. would relocate into ACT’s headquarters in Kreielsheimer Place at 700 Union St. in downtown Seattle.

The historic ACT building located in downtown Seattle

Photos courtesy of ACT Contemporary Theatre

A black and white photo of an empty, circular auditorium at ACT Contemporary Theatre, with rows of tiered seating surrounding a central stage, illuminated by a single overhead light.

“What better way to assist in the revitalization of downtown than to join together the forces of two storied arts organizations into our historic Seattle landmark building,” Langs says.

ACT, which just ended its 2023-2024 season, was founded by Gregory A. Falls in 1965. It has produced more than 300 plays and musicals, including 47 world premieres. Seattle Shakespeare Co. was founded in 1991. Its next production, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, launches June 27 as part of its free summer performances in regional parks called Wooden O.

Seattle Shakespeare Executive Director John Bradshaw adds that the possible merger would strengthen Seattle’s reputation as one the most important cities for theatre in the United States.

“What has made Seattle theatre incredibly special over the years is the sense of collaboration and collegiality among the different theatre organizations,” Bradshaw says, adding that the collaboration would “create something stronger, more vibrant, more impactful, than either alone.”

Both organizations encourage feedback on the potential merger at feedback@acttheatre.org or feedback@seattleshakespeare.org.

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