History of the KTC
It's always been hot in the Kitchen.
The Kitchen Theatre Company burst on the scene in 1991. It was the dream of a group of talented and determined theater artists to create a place where they could work together and hone their craft. Led by Matt Tauber and Tim O'Brien, the Kitchen Theatre Company made an auspicious debut with its ambitious production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child. The season choices were bold and brash. The productions were infused with the high energy and drive of hungry young artists setting out to change the world.
For the first two seasons, the company produced in several venues in the downtown area–Ithaca Music Hall and then the Women's Community Building–before joining the new arts organization complex forming in the Clinton House. The KTC was the first tenant in the building and opened its season while the renovations were being completed around them.
Season 3 included Jemal Diamond as Associate Artistic Director. For the fourth through the sixth seasons, Norm Johnson, Jr. took up the artistic reins. Norm championed the challenging and difficult over easy entertainment. Under Norm, the theater also served as a launching pad, giving main stage opportunities to promising students, notably Jesse Bush and Joe Calarco. Joe, now a recipient of both a Helen Hayes and Lucille Lortel Award, returned during the 2001-2002 season to direct his award-winning Shakespeare's R&J.
After three years of nurturing the KTC, Norm stepped down and Rachel Lampert stepped up to the plate.
Lampert began her tenure with a bang, an invigorating sold-out production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She brought an even greater interest in the integration of movement and theatre along with passion and experience in creating new works. Her abundant energy has brought the artistic quality and funding up to new levels. Along the way, she has enchanted us with her own theatre adventures (The Soup Comes Last, Tony and the Soprano, Bed No Breakfast, and more); used the theatre in exciting new ways (Our Town); engaged underserved audiences (Neat, The Brothers Size, The Motherf**ker with the Hat); and given younger artists, especially women, many opportunities. Her interest in new work has been seen in the choices on the Main Stage and in the outreach to area playwrights.
In 2008, the Kitchen Theatre Company purchased a building in the West End neighborhood of Ithaca, three blocks from its old home in the Clinton House. A $1.2 million campaign allowed us to renovate the building using green building techniques. The Kitchen celebrated its 20th Anniversary Season, 2010-2011, with a move to this beautiful new space. Patrons are more comfortable and production values increased due to the improved facilities. And with its attractive lobby and increased seating capacity, the theater has become a gathering place used by other organizations and community groups as well.
This current period is one of growth and continued stabilization of the theatre as an organization. From a skeleton staff of three, the Kitchen Theatre Company now has six artistic and production people plus a professional intern program that brings five recent college graduates to the theater for a year from all across the country. In addition to the staff are over 140 actors, directors, designers and crew, each making their contribution to the artistic life of the Kitchen Theatre Company and the Ithaca area.
Ithaca and the region have responded to this dynamism. Audiences fill our seats, and support in the community is strong and generous. Moreover, many artists have a place they can now call "home." The vision behind the Kitchen from the start!