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South Coast Repertory

655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa 92626, California, United States

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Broadway had a hold on American theatre by the mid-20th century when a revolution began. Young theatre artists began founding independent professional theatres to make classic and new works available to more people. It was called the "resident theatre movement," and by the early 1960s it was taking root in cities across America.

In California, David Emmes and Martin Benson had attended San Francisco State College, where two faculty members—Jules Irving and Herbert Blau—ran the Actor's Workshop, a model for resident theatre advocates. Having gone separate ways after graduation, ​Emmes and Benson held jobs in academia, the social services and the peripheries of entertainment before the duo gathered a few San Francisco friends in summer 1963 to stage Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde at the "Off-Broadway Theatre" in Long Beach. The chemistry worked and the theatre's board invited the troupe back to mount a series of plays the next summer.

The group of actors returned with The Hostage, Major Barbara and The Alchemist. The process of staging these three productions transformed the talented friends: the pressure they put themselves under to excel, and the creativity that emerged, marked the 1964 summer in Long Beach as a crucible. The band of hopefuls fused into a company.

Emmes and Benson were convinced there was a future for them in theatre. One night at a diner—using a napkin for paper—they sketched out a four-step plan to create a theatre company. The first step would involve touring to rented stages. In November 1964, the company—now formally named South Coast Repertory—staged its first production, Moliere’s Tartuffe, at the Newport Beach Ebell Club.

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Equity Theater
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655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa 92626, California, United States

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