To build a non-profit professional theatre company presenting an eclectic blend of classical works, modern drama, new plays, and musicals; which are relevant to contemporary audiences and seek to illuminate the human experience, educate, and enrich the lives of people in the Oklahoma City community.
The story of our company begins with Founding Artistic Director Richard Nelson. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Nelson received his master’s degree in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver and studied Shakespeare at the British-American Drama Academy at Oxford. After working as an actor in national tours and in Denver and New York City for 10 years, Nelson returned to Oklahoma City and saw the city had grown significantly since he left. He saw the potential for a different kind of theatre company, so he started calling fellow artists from grad school and friends from his days at the University of Oklahoma. This led to a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Myriad Gardens Waterstage in 1999 and the formation of Synchronicity Theatre Company with Richard Nelson as Artistic Director. In the program note for STC’s second production, Hamlet 2000, Nelson describes his purpose for starting the company:
“Synchronicity Theatre Company is an idea born of desperation… We are a group of disparate artists searching for that place where we belong. For some of us, it is the theatre, for others, it is simply each other… What we hope to do, is simply tell good stories.”
In 2002, part of the company’s evolving mission is described in the program note for Richard III:
“We like the classics because they define us. They define the human race as we were, as we are, and as we will be. But we don’t like them richly stuffed and dead on arrival; we like them alive and kicking.”
Synchronicity eventually found a home in Studio 207 at 7210 Broadway Extension. Studio 207 was a modified warehouse and could only accommodate small audiences. Our patrons from those days will remember some of the challenges of the Broadway location, but we look back on that time with warm memories. In many ways the spirit of innovation and community – ideals that are still foundations of our company today – were developed and nurtured at Studio 207. Audiences came to 7210 Broadway to see performances of Stop Kiss, True West, The Blue Room, and Equus along with many other successful performances that challenged the norm and pushed the boundaries of convention.
In 2001, Synchronicity was invited to produce shows in the newly renovated Civic Center Music Hall, and for a few seasons, the company produced shows in both locations. Then, in 2002, out of a desire to identify more closely with the community in which we live and eliminate confusion over the spelling and pronunciation of our name, Synchronicity decided to change its name to Oklahoma City Theatre Company. In the years following, OKC Theatre Company continued to venture into varying genres of drama, performing comedies, modern dramas, classics, and musicals and encouraging new playwrights by offering staged readings and workshops for their plays. Eventually, in 2003, Studio 207 was closed, and for the last several years the company has been one of two theatre companies housed exclusively at the Civic Center and performing shows in both the City Space Theatre and the Freede Little Theatre.
During our 11th season, OKC Theatre Company began the Native American New Play Festival, an event that promised encouragement to Native American Playwrights. New plays from across the nation and Canada were submitted, and three were chosen and presented as staged readings for the public in the summer of 2010. In years to come, the festival is expected to evolve into a cornerstone event for OKC Theatre Company bringing artists to Oklahoma City from all over the continent. This excerpt is taken from the program note for the first festival:
“…We are now embarking on a new and exciting journey, and we take great pride in inviting you to come along. As artists, an important part of our mission is to highlight the ethnic and cultural wealth of our state and community. The Native American New Play Festival reflects our desire to highlight the rich tradition of story-telling in the Native American culture and to celebrate this through the art of theatre.”
OKC Theatre Company continues to produce an eclectic blend of classic plays, contemporary drama, and new work today. The so-called “disparate” group of artists brought together by Nelson created a home in Oklahoma City for themselves and for many others. Our journey from past to present has been marked with challenges and triumphs. Some of the faces have changed over the years, but our mission and passion remain unchanged. We invite you to join us and to be a part of our exciting future as we continue to tell our stories, create great theatre, grow, and evolve – as artists and as a community.