PICNIC | 1996
PICNIC | 1996

History

Marin Theatre Company had modest grassroots beginnings. In 1966, 35 Mill Valley residents came together under the leadership of Sali Lieberman to create the Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts [MVCPA]. The nonprofit organization brought arts as diverse as film, theater, poetry, dance and concerts of classical, jazz and folk music to Marin County for a decade. After a number of successful community theater productions, MVCPA began to exclusively produce and present theater performances in 1977.

The small group overcame many challenges to put on critically-acclaimed, award-winning plays in a golf clubhouse, a veterans' auditorium and several schools and parks. To acknowledge the organization's specialization in theater arts and expanded regional focus, MVCPA changed its name to Marin Theatre Company in 1984. This marked the beginning of a period of extraordinary growth.

By 1987, MTC had become a professional theater company, opening its own theater complex with onsite administrative offices and joining with other local theaters to negotiate the first regional equity contract in the Bay Area. Since then, MTC began a new play program to support emerging American playwrights, launching a New Works developmental workshop and public reading series in 2004 and establishing two new play prizes in 2007. MTC joined both the League of Resident Theatres and National New Play Network in 2008. MTC is now the leading professional theater in the North Bay and premier mid-sized theater in the Bay Area.


1960s

1966

35 residents of the greater Mill Valley area, under the leadership of Sali Lieberman, are organized by Mayor Albert E. White and appointed to a Performing Arts Committee. The committee forms the Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts (MVCPA) with an endorsement from the City Council, and begins operating under the newly created Arts Commission. This is the first group of its kind in the Bay Area to receive official sanction from a city.

1967

Bay Area pianist Julian White opens MVCPA's first season, which includes concert recitals, dance, film series and theater productions presented at the Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse. MVCPA's first play is Friedrich Duerrenmatt's The Physicists.

1968

MVCPA incorporates as a nonprofit. A.J. Esta becomes MVCPA's first artistic director; Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA's first managing director

1969

MVCPA gains visibility when it draws "capacity audiences every night" for its critically acclaimed production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, adapted by Dale Wasserman from Ken Kesey's novel and directed by Robin Jackson. The following year, future MTC Artistic Director Lee Sankowich mounts a commercial San Francisco production of the play, starring three members of the MVCPA cast. That production runs for five years, becoming the longest running show in San Francisco history. Robert Adler becomes artistic director.

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1970s

1972

MVCPA produces theater exclusively for its 1972-73 Season. Offering six shows, MVCPA sells season tickets for the first time (all six shows for $12).

1973

MVCPA begins offering concerts again. Start of 1973-74 Season delayed by a moratorium on use of Golf Clubhouse by the City Council because of recommendations by the fire chief and building inspector for "fire prevention" retrofits. Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA's Managing Director.

1975

MVCPA begins producing theater exclusively again, offering six shows. MVCPA sells season tickets for the second time in history, 6 shows are $15. Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA's Managing Director again. During the run of Clifford Odet's The Flowering Peach, the Golf Clubhouse burns down and the remainder of the 1975-76 Season is cancelled.

1976

MVCPA is largely inactive while the City of Mill Valley rebuilds the Golf Clubhouse. It stages a few productions at Edna McGuire School and Marin Veterans Auditorium.

1977

MVCPA inaugurates new Golf Clubhouse with production of N. Richard Nash's The Rainmaker. Robin Jackson becomes Managing Director.

1978

MVCPA serves as the fiscal sponsor to the newly-formed Mill Valley Film Festival, which presents films in the Golf Clubhouse. Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA's President. Michelle Swanson becomes MVCPA's Artistic Director.

1979

Will Marchetti becomes MVCPA's Artistic Director. Marchetti expands the company's repertory to include original work, committing to produce one premiere each season. MVCPA establishes a full-time Theatre Arts School.

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1980s

1980

MVCPA opens first administrative office above Davood's Restaurant in downtown Mill Valley. MVCPA receives grant from San Francisco Foundation to support 15th Anniversary. MVCPA has 180 subscribers. Sali Lieberman becomes MVCPA's Managing Director again.

1981

MVCPA celebrates 15th Season. MVCPA receives three-year grant from San Francisco Foundation to support a part-time marketing and public relations director. MVCPA offers special concerts, including Kronos Quartet.

1982

MVCPA establishes M.A.S.K. (Marin Acting School for Kids). MVCPA completes feasibility study and announces interest in purchasing 397 Miller Avenue (known as the “Port") to build its own theater with rehearsal space, dressing rooms, concessions and storage. MVCPA has 350 subscribers. MVCPA founder Sali Lieberman dies in October. Harry Perlis becomes Interim Managing Director.

1983

Hired the previous year as MVCPA's first dramaturg, Karl Rawicz becomes Artistic Director. He replaces Will Marchetti, who leaves to join the cast of the Off Broadway production of Sam Shepard's Fool for Love with Circle Repertory Company. Andrew Zarillo becomes MVCPA's first full-time Executive Director.

1984

MVCPA purchases and begins renovations on 397 Miller Avenue, home to our current theater. Karl Rawicz's position of Artistic Director is upgraded to full-time for the first time in organization's history. MVCPA changes its name to Marin Theatre Company (MTC).

1985

MTC's 99-seat Studio Theatre, now known as the Lieberman Theatre, opens. MTC stages its 1986-87 Season in the new theater beginning with Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn's Foxfire.

1986

MTC celebrates 20th anniversary. Will Marchetti becomes Artistic Director again. Capital Campaign is completed thanks to a generous $500,000 donation from Genentech founder Herb Boyer.

1987

MTC's 250-seat proscenium theater, now known as the Boyer Theatre, opens. MTC stages its 1987-88 Season in the new theater beginning with Nina Shengold's Homesteaders. MTC joins other local theaters in forming the Coalition of Bay Area Theaters, which successfully negotiates a Bay Area regional contract with Actors' Equity Association.

1988

Noises Off by Michael Frayn, directed by Richard Seyd, enjoys a sold-out extended run at MTC, then transfers to the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco, where it ran for 10 months.

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1990s

1990

Lee Sankowich becomes Artistic Director; Richard Wright becomes Managing Director.

1992

MTC celebrates 25th Anniversary Season. Regina Lickteig becomes Managing Director.

1993

Departing Board President Herb Boyer establishes MTC's endowment with a generous gift of $500,000.

1994

Subscriber attendance at an all time high, with 40 performances sold out.

1995

NEA awards MTC its first grant. Both NEA and California Arts Council, in their evaluations, praise MTC for its rapid transformation from a community to a professional theater.

1996

Artistic Director Lee Sankowich remounts his successful production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 25 years after his original commercial production opened in San Francisco.

1997

MTC celebrates 30th Anniversary Season. L.A. Law stars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker star in the West Coast premiere of Emma's Child by Kristine Thatcher.

1999

MTC partners with Allegro Theatre Company to produce a revival of the musical Pal Joey. This will be the first of six musicals produced in partnership with Allegro. Jim Kleinman becomes Managing Director.

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2000s

2000

MTC stages the world premiere of the newly discovered Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich, the successful production garners national press recognition and an extended run.

2001

The Lieberman Theatre is refurbished and reopens. A revival of the musical Lady in the Dark, directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich and co-produced with Allegro Theatre Company, receives an extended run and becomes MTC's 9th best selling show of all time. Gabriella Calicchio becomes Managing Director.

2002

A revival of the musical Wonderful Town, directed by Artsitic Director Lee Sankowich and co-produced with Allegro Theatre Company, receives an extended run and becomes MTC's 7th best selling show of all time.

2003

MTC produces the professional world premiere of Fugitive Kind by Tennessee Williams. The discovery of the play and the production are filmed for a documentary that remains unfinished due to the untimely death of the filmmaker shortly before the play opened.

2004

Artistic Director Lee Sankowich partners with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest playwright Dale Wasserman to adapt the music of Duke Ellington into the world premiere musical Beggar's Holiday. Deborah Zoe Laufer's The Last Schwartz, starring L.A. Law stars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker and directed by Artistic Director Lee Sankowich, extends its run and becomes MTC's best selling show of all time.

2006

Tracy Letts's Killer Joe, directed by Artsitic Director Lee Sankowich, enjoys an extended run, becoming MTC's 8th best selling show of all time. It transfers to a commercial run in San Francisco. Artistic Director Lee Sankowich retires after 16 years. Jasson Minadakis becomes Artistic Director.

2007

MTC celebrates its 40th Anniversary Season. It establishes two national playwriting prizes, generously funded by Norton J. "Sky" Cooper: the Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize. Gabriella Calicchio departs to become Managing Director of the Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre in Minneapolis.

2008

Ryan Rilette becomes Producing Director. MTC joins the League of Resident Theaters (LORT).

2009

Playwright Steve Yockey joins MTC's staff for the 2009/10 Season as its National New Play Networks Playwright in Residence.

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2010s

2010

MTC establishes an Artistic and Operating Reserve Fund, thanks to a generous $500,000 donation from board member Chris Smith. It also has a string of mega-hits. Equivocation by Bill Cain, directed by Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis, receives rave critical reviews and an extended run, becoming MTC's 2nd-best selling show of all time. It is immediately followed by a revival of Woody Guthrie's American Song, which extends and becomes MTC's 6th best selling show of all time.

That is followed at the start of the next season by a co-production of Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, which MTC co-produces with A.C.T. and Magic Theatre. MTC's production of the first play in the trilogy, In The Red & Brown Water, directed by Producing Director Ryan Rilette, extends its run and becomes MTC's 4th best selling show of all time. It is immediately followed by the world premiere of 9 Circles by Bill Cain, which is produced in the Lieberman Theater after winning the theater's Sky Cooper Award, and is later awarded the Harold and Mimi Steinberg / American Theatre Critics Association's New American Play Prize for the best new play to premiere outside of New York. Playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig joins MTC's staff for the 2010/11 Season as its National New Play Networks Playwright in Residence.

2011

MTC opens a 5,560 square foot scene shop in Oakland, thanks to a generous grant from Gage Shubert. A revival of August Wilson's Seven Guitars enjoys rave reviews and an extended run, becoming MTC's 10th best selling show of all time. MTC produces the world premiere of Steve Yockey's Bellwether.

2012

MTC celebrates its 45th Anniversary Season. Ryan Rilette departs to become Producing Artistic Director of Roundhouse Theatre. Playwright JC Lee joins MTC's staff for the 2012/13 Season as its National New Play Networks Playwright in Residence. MTC opens its 2012/13 Season with two critical success, Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation (in co-production with Encore Theatre Company) and Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, which receive the San Francisco Chronicle's highest rating of Wild Applause. MTC produces It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, its first holiday play in nearly two decades.

2013

Michael Barker becomes Managing Director. MTC's co-production with Virginia Stage Company of Matthew Lopez's The Whipping Man receives the San Francisco Chronicle's highest rating of Wild Applause and an extended run, becoming MTC's 3rd best selling show of all time. The Whipping Man wins the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Excellence Awards for production and ensemble and is named best of 2013 by San Francisco Chronicle, Marin IJ and Broadway-World.com. Rod Gnapp's performance in Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane receives the SFBATCC Excellence Award for Performance by a Male Actor in a Featured Role.

The following season opens with the Bay Area premiere of David Lindsay Abaire's Good People, which is named best of 2013 by Marin IJ and TheaterDogs. MTC produces the first production of the National New Play Network Rolling Premiere of Lauren Gunderson's I and You, which goes on to win the 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. After successfully partnering with the Bay Area Children's Theatre to present a sold-out run of Ivy + Bean, the Musical, MTC announces its first theater series for young audiences, which begins in August and features productions by MTC and BACT. MTC receieves an anonymous $350,000 challenge grant from a local supporter.

2014

MTC produces the first production of National New Play Network Rolling Premiere of Carson Kreitzer's Lasso of Truth, which was co-commissioned by MTC and the NNPN. Fences extends one week and becomes MTC's 5th best selling show of all time. The play goes on to win Outstanding Production at the first annual Theatre Bay Area Awards.

The 2014/15 Season opens with the West Coast premiere of Will Power's Fetch Clay, Make Man, a co-production with Round House Theatre, that is named best of 2014 by Marin IJ. The Bay Area premiere of The Whale follows just a month after playwright Samuel D. Hunter receives a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" Fellowship. The play, which won MTC's 2011 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, receives the San Francisco Chronicle's highest rating of Wild Applause and is is named best of 2014 by San Francisco Chronicle, Marin IJ, Bay Area Reporter and North Bay Bohemian.

2015

Marin Theatre Company produces the Bay Area debut of playwright Danai Gurira with The Convert.

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