- a group of designers, directors, actors, and artisans who believe in the power of collaboration and actively seek to create work that requires focusing the development process through the lens of design. We endeavor to let the human body and visual aesthetic drive a story, creating a more flexible space for the performers and director to join in collaboration, rather than in a typical hierarchical mode. We function in cooperation, working towards shared goals, dividing labor, and balancing the heavy lifting as a team.
Virago was founded in 2005 by five theater artists dedicated to staging professional productions of new Bay Area plays. Virago Theatre Company incorporated in June 2007, and our first production of the 2007-2008 season coincided with the opening of a new arts center in Alameda, Rhythmix Cultural Works. Under the leadership of Laura Lundy-Paine and Robert Lundy-Paine, Virago began gaining a strong reputation as an East Bay theater that nurtured and supported playwrights through their creative process. First, introducing new works through the Virago Reading Series, then developing one of these scripts into a full production in the East Bay or San Francisco. In 2007 Virago produced Robert Hamm’s A Bed of My Own, John Byrd’s The Death of Ayn Rand (2007) and The Hermit Bird (2009), Dan Brodnitz and Jeff Green’s Mankind’s Last Hope (2007), William Bivins’ The Afterlife of the Mind (2009), Zombie Vixens from Hell-The Musical!(2012) by John Byrd, and in Fall of 2013, George Pfirrmann’s AROUSAL. AROUSAL, paired with Harold Pinter's The Lover toured to Los Angeles (Theatre Asylum) and New York (The Flea Theater 2014).
Following the official closing of the theatre company in July 2017, Maggie Whitaker was selected to take over as Artistic Director of the company, relaunching it in January 2018. With new leadership has come a redesign of Virago's identity. Ms. Whitaker has taken the foundation of championing new works and developing plays with emerging playwrights and transformed it to prioritize the creation of design-driven and experimental work that showcases the voices and stories of women +. Virago gives primacy to artists who often marginalized or silenced in the world of contemporary art and performance. Virago believes that all artists should have a seat at the table and that the table must reflect the diversity of the Bay Area community if our work is to be rigorous, relevant, and excellent.
Photo credits: Matthew Evearitt