The idea for Arts
Equity began in Washington DC. It was from its beginning a company that had as its mission: TO CREATE EQUITY IN THE ARTS.
Over the past several decades we have written and produced
works ranging from documentary films like "Sojourn of Healing"
and "Mother's Requiem" to world premiers of new stage plays
like Rod Harrel's "Now Let Me Say This About That."
The company has co-produced more than a dozen works in
collaboration with numerous artists and independent producers in
Portland since 1990 including "AE, the Disappearance and Death
of Amelia Earhart" which won an Oregon Literary Arts Award for
the playwright E. J. Westlake in 1991. In the past we have
received grants from The Kinsman Foundation plus The Regional
Arts and Culture Council for our own productions and have been
listed as collaborators on several more. Our productions have
often involved long sold out runs of shows like "Steel Magnolias"
and "Greater Tuna" at Sylvia's Class Act Dinner Theatre.
Concurrent with relocating to the Vancouver/Portland Area in
1990 we began to focus on the development and production of
new works for the stage and the music-theatre genre. In 1996 we
were a part of the Composer Librettist Studio conducted by the
Nautilus Music-Theatre of Minneapolis. In 1997 we co-produced a
second studio in Portland. Out of these two studios have come an
association with playwrights and composers who collaborated
with Arts Equity. Together with long time performers they make
up the bulk of the artistic core for our company. Arts Equity
was reincorporated in Washington state in 2001 as we began our
search for a suitable performance space in Vancouver.
On June 17 2005 we opened Arts Equity in a renovated space we
dubbed "The Main Street Theatre". We were part of the
redevelopment of the downtown core in historic Vancouver.
After a three year lease and 467 performances we closed our
downtown Vancouver space and have become for the time being a
local touring company working in the greater Portland/Vancouver
metropolitan area while we look for a new and more suitable
During our tenure at The Main Street Theatre, we tackled the
great playwrights of the theatrical canon including: Harold
Pinter, Eugene O'Neill, Edward Albee, Steve Martin, Eugene
Ionesco, Nikola Gogol and Paula Vogel. Along the way we kept
contemporary with up and coming international playwrights like
Tad Savinar, Tom Cone, Kevin Kling, Willy Russel and have
produced world premiers for regional playwrights like Connor
Kerns, Ellen West, Gretchen O'Halloran, Molly Tinsley, John
Donnelly, Mark Steering and Llewellyn J. Rhoe.
Our productions have created a very similar reaction to our
quest for excellence: "I can't believe I saw that in Vancouver!"
Our production of the tour de force musical "Herringbone" featuring
Taylor Askman (book by Tom Cone, Music by Skip Kennon, lyrics by
Ellen Fitzhugh) holds the record for number of performances and
brought Arts Equity an international reputation for successfully
mounting difficult material.
Our name Arts Equity, embodies what we want to accomplish:
equity in the arts. Equity for those creating, and an equity stakeholder
attitude shared by our patrons base.The medium we choose is collaboration. Collaboration is
a "state of grace" we switch into, and out of as the moment and the
task demands. It is a process where individuals with complimentary skills
interact to create an understanding that none had previously possessed
or could have come to on their own.
These complimentary human beings and skills produce the friction and
emotional heat that generate the "works of living art"-- works by new
masters creating modern classics.
Llewellyn J. Rhoe
The Cast of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at The Main Street Theatre
Left to Right: Dusty Richards, Joey LeBard, David Hudkins, Debbie Hudkins, Stefan Kay, Dave Paull, Rod Harrel, not pictured Adrienne Vogel
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