The Eureka Theatre, a Brief History
The Eureka Theater Company was founded in 1972, originally as the Shorter Players, but got its current name in 1974, when the original group was joined by such directors and performers as Richard E.T. White, Danny Glover, and Julie Herbert. Over the past three decades, the company has launched the careers of many well-known actors and directors, staged over seventy World, West Coast and Bay Area premieres, and commissioned new works that have achieved national recognition and acclaim. During the 1970s, the Eureka was recognized by more Bay Area Critics Circle Awards than any other theatre group. At the time the company staged its work in the basement of a Castro district church, which was destroyed by a fire in 1979.
In the early 1980s, the company moved into a building in the Inner Mission where an annual season of challenging plays was successfully produced for almost a decade. In 1988, the Eureka commissioned playwright Tony Kushner to create Angels in America. Following an intensive development process, Part One was premiered in 1991. The play won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize as well as many other accolades. In addition to the triumph of Angels in America, several other plays went on to tremendous critical success: Shadow of a Man, by Cherrie Moraga (with Brava! For Women in the Arts), From the Outside Looking In, On the Road: San Francisco 1990 by Anna Deavere Smith, Ubu Unchained, by Amlin Gray and Execution of Justice, by Emily Mann, to name a few. During this time the Eureka also helped to launch the careers of numerous artists including playwrights Caryl Churchill and Dario Fo; actors Geoff Hoyle and Danny Glover; and directors Richard Seyd and Tony Taccone.
After a four-year hiatus, the Eureka resumed operating on a full-time basis in 1997. In 1998, the Eureka leased and renovated the Gateway Cinema in downtown San Francisco in order to provide a venue for culturally diverse playwrights and performers. Since then the Eureka has joined forces with other arts organizations to co-produce work that might not otherwise have a life, and where--in the midst of a space crisis--theater companies from all over the Bay Area can rehearse and perform. The goal of the Eureka’s co-production program is to develop artistically excellent programming that reflects our mission statement, generates income and attracts many first-time visitors to the heart of downtown San Embarcadero.
During the past five years the Eureka has become the home of several Bay Area staples, such as the annual Bay Area One-Act Festival (the BOA Festival) which both premiers and showcases new work by local playwrights, and the annual San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival, which has featured such luminaries as the Kids in the Hall, Amy Sedaris, Fred Willard and Dana Carvey, Eastenders Repertory Company, which focuses on gay and lesbian plays and issues, and 42nd Street Moon, a company that brings rarely performed musicals to new audiences.