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Ahoy! Capital Stage Finally Lands a Home of Its Own

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 13, 2011


The big challenge with Capital Stage's old location was that you almost needed a map to find it. You walked across a dock built out of gnarly, uneven timbers, down a gangway onto the boat, down a double flight of stairs, through several narrow doors… and finally, you were there.

It was hard enough for patrons, but it was even tougher for Capital Stage co-founder and set designer Jonathan Williams. For years, he literally dragged all sorts of set materials down that gangway and into the boat, piece by individual piece. When I stopped by the new venue in the 2200 block of J Street, Williams was all smiles.

Williams: "Here, it's all one flat surface, it's all nice even concrete. I can actually drive my truck into the building. The time savings and the manpower savings that we're going to have because of that is going to be really huge."

Williams and his wife, Capital Stage co-founder and artistic director Stephanie Gularte, know that the new venue's flat floor and adjacent parking will improve accessibility, especially for people with walkers or wheelchairs.

Williams: "Yeah, the fact that it's a nice even single floored building, concrete floor throughout, is very helpful in that way."

Gularte: (clanging in background) "We've been fortunate to create a partnership with the owner of the private parking lot directly across the street from the theater. In terms of from car to building, it will be a much easier journey for all our patrons."

Capital Stage is moving to its new and improved location even as Sacramento struggles with the economic downturn. Gularte says the recession hit her company hard three years ago - but it's finally yielded something of a silver lining during this year's big move.

Gularte: "The reality is it really has been actually ideal timing for us. First of all, just the location in and of itself, is something that probably would not have been affordable to us in a better economy, frankly."

For Gularte, the move represents more than a better location. It's also symbolic of the theater company's maturity and independence.

Gularte: :After having produced theater for almost 12 years in someone else's place, we have our own offices now, right across the street from our building, we're on this main street, you can see Capital Stage as you drive by. It's hard to describe. But it's really exciting, really really exciting."

From a programming perspective, the old Delta King stage was miniscule, restricting Gularte to plays with no more than four actors in a scene. But the new stage has elbow room. That means Gularte can try things that weren't possible on the boat:
Gularte: Nine people in our first show, and almost all of them on stage at the same time."
Gularte and her nine actors have been rehearsing the season opener for weeks. The play involves a Russian immigrant who is trying to run a small business in a deteriorating neighborhood.
Months of fundraising and construction culminate this weekend with the opening of the new Capital Stage. Gularte admits she'll be a little emotional when the theater darkens and the show begins.
Gularte: "You know, I got a little goosebump when you just asked me that. It's mixed. Because I always want to be improving. So when the lights go down, I have that mixed feeling of pride and anticipation, and also terror that things are not going to go as well as I had imagined or hoped. It's maybe one of the most exciting and difficult moments all at once, because there's all that potential in that moment, and also this vulnerability."
And when the show begins Saturday, the little theater company that started on an old riverboat will finally have a home of its own.
Capital Stage opens its new Sacramento venue this Saturday with a play called "Superior Donuts."

Here's a short video clip showing Capital Stage actors rehearsing a scene in their new home theatre:

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