ACT Theatre

  • WA


700 Union street
United States

About Us

ACT — A Contemporary Theatre

A Theatre of New Ideas: Raising Consciousness Through Theatre

Located in the heart of downtown Seattle and serving a population of curious, open-minded, and brave audiences, ACT is the only local theatre dedicated to producing contemporary work with promising playwrights and local performing artists since 1965. We are...

  • A destination for contemporary theatre and arts in downtown Seattle.
  • A cultural engine that makes plays, dance, music, and film that touch us through its annual Mainstage Play series and new works generated from the Young Playwrights Program, The Hansberry Project, the Central Heating Lab and New Works for the American Stage commissioning program. Because contemporary life demands examination, ACT is driven to inspire and strengthen our diverse community through works that advance our understanding of human life.
  • An interactive community where artists and the public witness, contemplate and engage in dialogue on today's thought-provoking issues, ideas and art, presented with intelligence, insight, and humor.
  • Dedicated to the advancement and preservation of today's contemporary work for future generations.

The ACT Manifesto

We exist for the same reason that there is public education and public health - to support and raise the quality of life in our civilization.

We believe in the theatre of the moment, this moment, the present, contemporary struggles, issues, ideas, being. If this practice creates light, consciousness, deeper thought, more fellow feeling, both in our audiences and in ourselves, we believe this to be good for something.

ACT seeks to create a conversation with its work, its season, that reaches for something broader, deeper, seeking to create a philosophical view, or a more connected sense of compassion with our fellow beings and the world at large...An investigation, a sense of experiment, of searching for the new idea or synthesis.

The primacy of product - the beautifully fashioned thing, the definitive performance, the astonishing act. We strive for insane excellence. Otherwise, everything is dismissible.

ACT is a reef - A vertical ecosystem of artistic practice. Its job is to create levels of experience through the medium of performance. Its building, its series of performance spaces and intriguing rooms reflect this potential and cry out for its use in this way. The present is multifarious, contradictory, high and low culture, has many guises, ethnicities, and voices. The theatre must reflect this diversity---aesthetically, socially, ethnically, and intellectually.

A reef is a home - A community of mutually sustaining life forms. ACT should be a mutually sustaining community of theatre practices and audiences. It also exists to stimulate and please its audiences, and to sustain its community of theatre workers and artists. Nothing significant can be made without this community, this family. The artist cannot be forgotten.

All forms of theatre represent possibilities for new insight, new experience, new life. Hence, all performance practices and disciplines are fair game. Conventional theatre, performance art, musicals, dance, site-specific pieces, poetry, cabaret, Comedy, and a broad range of theatrical experimentations live side by side.

New art. If the theatre doesn't press the envelope, it fails its ambition to lead the pack by creating new experience. Risk is essential. Few have ever made anything good without it. All plays can be looked at as simulations of risk for the audience, allowing patrons to experience risk in a risk-less environment. It is the business of theatre to create them and take them.

The dimension of poetry, High Art. If the theatre has no supersensual utility, it is nothing. If it cannot lead its patrons to another plane of experience-metaphorical, abstract, or deeply affective-it remains earthbound and less than pop media. It has no reason to exist. If it does not reflect the complexities of the world, it is false.

Populist art must be part of the overall complexion of the theatre. If it only becomes a palace for High Art, it loses connection with the universal yearning for the redemptive story and the belly laugh.

ACT exists for the community and to strengthen it, for all searchers of all ethnicities and ages. We continually develop deep connections with other likeminded institutions. We produce mutually, interweave and sustain communities of audiences from the socio-politically driven to the sybarites, from the connoisseurs and intellectuals to the fun seekers.

- Kurt Beattie, Artistic Director