About the KTC
Things are hot in the Kitchen! Here's a little history...
In 2010, the Kitchen Theatre Company (KTC) moved to 417 W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, making history by becoming the first theater company in Ithaca to own its own location. The completion of the building represented the culmination of a dream of Kitchen Theatre Company staff and board. The Campaign for a Bold, New Space, led by co-chairs Percy Browning, KTC Past Board President, and Greg Hartz, CEO Tompkins Trust Company, along with KTC Artistic Director, Rachel Lampert and Managing Director, Stephen Nunley, successfully raised $1.2M to construct a LEED-certified green building that includes a 99-seat thrust stage space, dressing rooms, green room, scene shop, inner lobby, outer lobby/art gallery, hospitality bar, box office, and a striking glass entranceway called "the beacon" that welcomes all to the Kitchen's new home.
Artistic Director Rachel Lampert has led the company since 1997. She began her tenure with an invigorating sold-out production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She brought an interest in the integration of movement and theatre along with passion and experience in creating new works. Her abundant energy brought the artistic quality and funding to new levels. Along the way, she has enchanted audiences 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 including early career directorial assignments to Wendy Dann, Michele Minnick and Katie Pearl. In 2013 she named Margarett Perry KTC Resident Director.
Rachel has championed new work by producing world premieres by playwrights including Brian Dykstra, Adam Bock, Rob Ackerman, Alexander Thomas, LeVan D. Hawkins, Tanya Barfield, Jason Odell Williams, Rachel Axler, Francesca Saunders. Judy Tate's Slashes of Light was a runaway hit as the closing production of the 2013-14 season. Her interest in solo performance work spurred an on-going commitment to bring dynamic, provocative writer/performers to Ithaca to both develop and perform their work. An impressive roster of solo artists, including Deb Margolin, Tim Miller, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Lee Chamberlin, Vijai Nathan, Lenelle Moise, Vicki Tanner, Rae C. Wright, Steve Hayes, Tom Cayler, Darian Dauchan, Alice Eve Cohen and more.
For many seasons KTC produced original plays and musicals for general audiences on the Family Fare Series. This series is making a comeback in the 2014-15 Season with the production of an updated version of a musical now titled Physics Fair in collaboration with the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences and Education.
In the early days, KTC employed actors under the Guest Artist Agreement with Actors' Equity. A recent milestone was passed in 2011 when Kitchen Theatre Company became a professional Equity theater.
The KTC has a unique position in the Ithaca and Tompkins County communities. The theater is just the right size for new and emerging individuals and groups to try their wings. Kitchen Sink Series offers local and visiting theater artists and groups access to the space. Area theater companies including Civic Ensemble and Homecoming Players regularly produce readings and performances at KTC, and recently another Ithaca-base company, Running To Places, has presented work here.
A critical marker for KTC's stabilization was the addition of key people who have joined the team in supporting and guiding the progress of the Kitchen's vision and mission. The position of Managing Director was created in 2004 and filled by Stephen Nunley. Steve took hold of the financial side of the KTC and has led the effort to increase recognition in the business community for the work of the theater. He has broadened awareness of the KTC's goals and increased the participation of area corporations in supporting the work. Lesley Greene, who had been volunteering at the KTC and served as President of the Board for a year, joined the staff in 2003. She is the Associate Producer and leader of KTC marketing efforts. This season, former intern Emily Jackson returned to the theater as Artistic Associate/Director of Audience Services & Development.
The Kitchen Theatre Company is supported by gifts from individuals and businesses. KTC receives support from foundations, NYSCA, and Tompkins County through the Tompkins County Tourism Fund. KTC won the Small Business of the Year Award in 2006 – the only not-for-profit to that date to win the honor.
The Kitchen Theatre Company remains lean and frugal but has grown the full-time staff to six, with a resident stage manager and technical director plus a professional resident intern program that brings six recent college graduates from all across the country to the theater for an intensive year of professional development.
In 2010, the "Next Steps" Front of House Trainee Program was started. Young people from the neighborhood are employed in entry-level positions and receive training in front of house management.
In addition to the staff, over 140 actors, directors, designers and crew make their contribution to the artistic life of the Kitchen Theatre Company and the Ithaca area every season. Ithaca and the regional patrons have responded by filling our seats, and the support by the community is strong and generous. Moreover, many artists have a place they can now call "home."
Founders and Early History
The Kitchen Theatre Company was the dream of a group of talented and determined theater artists. In 1991, they created 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 productions were infused with the high energy and drive of hungry young artists setting out to change the world. KTC moved to the new arts organization complex forming in the Clinton House in 1995. 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, who have continued to be associated with the Kitchen.
The Kitchen Theatre's LEED-certified building on West State/MLK Jr. Street in Ithaca. Photo by Dave Burbank.