Spokane, Washington – Located in a deceptively small-looking building squeezed between a motel and fitness studio on West Third Avenue just off Division, Stage Left Theater may look unimposing, but it has a mighty impact and a solid position in Spokane’s theater world.
“Our mission is to tell stories, build community and pursue equity through the production of new and existing theatrical works,” said Jeremy Wittington, managing and artistic director of Stage Left.
The intimate venue was founded in 2011 as an alternative theater and it produces five main stage productions, four festivals and many special events each season.
“Our plays match our role as the Inland Northwest’s premier progressive theater,” Wittington said. “We do shows that make people think. There is not a lot of fluffiness going on at our theater.”
Stage Left supports marginalized and oppressed population groups, and its plays are meant to inspire theatergoers to help create positive change in the community.
And then there is this: Wittington’s goal is to pay everyone who’s part of a production.
“It may surprise some people, but traditionally community theater has not paid its actors,” Wittington said, adding that everyone who is part of a play production now gets paid something.
A grant from the Avista Foundation will help pay these wages and keep this local gem of a theater vibrant through the COVID pandemic.
Another of Wittington’s goals is to make Stage Left a new works or world premiere theater. Resident playwright Molly Allen, whom you may know from 92.9 KZZU FM’s “Dave, Ken and Molly in the Morning”, has already written two original plays for Stage Left.
The new season starts on Jan. 14 with a production of Corpus Cristi, an experimental play by Terrence McNally which retells the story of Jesus from an LGBTQ perspective.
“As the gay son of a Baptist minister this script really spoke to me,” Wittington said. “It’s a play about universal love written in 1998 and it was done by 13 gay men. But we have a real spectrum of people telling the story.”
At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $12 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.