Germinal Stage, Inc., a Colorado non-profit corporation (dba Germinal Stage Denver), was founded by four Denver actors, Ed Baierlein, Sallie Diamond, Ginger Valone, and Jack McKnight, in August of 1973 and is one of the longest-lived and most respected small theatres in the Rocky Mountain region. For the first thirteen years of our existence, we performed in a converted warehouse at 18th & Market Streets in Lower Downtown. Since 1987, we have owned a 100-seat converted storefront in the historic North Denver Sunnyside neighborhood. In addition to our normal performance schedule, we have performed at Seattle's Bumbershoot Civic Arts Festival, twice at Denver's "Spree" arts festival, toured as part of the Colorado Council on the Arts & Humanities' state "Chautauqua" tour, co-produced the Denver premieres of two operas, presented several World Premieres, and performed as guests of the American Theatre Company in Aspen.
Our repertoire has included more traditional items--O'Neill, Williams, Synge, Moliere, Shakespeare, Shaw, Coward--as well as contemporary pieces by Pinter, Rabe, Mamet, Brecht--and works by more esoteric playwrights--Handke, Guerdon, Forssell, Roc, Sylvanus, Enquist, Cocteau, Ghelderode, Witkiewicz.
On September 9, 1982, Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm presented Germinal Stage Denver with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, recognizing "the artistic quality of the theatre work produced; for having made a major contribution to the culture of the area over a sustained period of time." We have also received the Mayor's Award for Excellence, an Achievement Award from the Rocky Mountain Women's Institute, a Commendation Award from Downtown Denver, Inc., the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Award in the Arts and Humanities, and over one-hundred-fifty local nominations for excellence, including ten nominations for "Best Season for a Theatre Company."
Our initial goals were 1) to provide a standard of excellence for other small theatres in the region and 2) to demonstrate fiscal stability and responsibility. Our achievement in the first area is attested to by our consistent audience support and by a reputation for excellence second to none. We have received high critical acclaim and gratifying regional recognition. At the very foundation of our success has been our commitment to non-institutional attitudes and goals. We operate very much as a non-profit small business, attempting to reinforce the community of actors and audience which is at the core of the theatre experience. Our motto has always been "Presenting plays of substance in an exciting and intimate atmosphere."
"plays of substance"--those works in the world repertoire in comedy, drama, musical theatre, or tragedy, that evidence on the part of the playwright a serious inquiry into philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, language, style, or the nature of the theatre experience.
"exciting"--the psychic environment that exists when playwright, director, actors, and audience are using the play as a vehicle for enhancing their own personal understanding of the universe, rather than as a diversion.
"intimate"--the optimum space for achieving actor/audience community. The point at which an actor begins to view the audience as an abstract unit rather than as individuals gathered to share a common experience is the point at which intimacy has been lost.
The many artistic phases we have experienced clearly reflect our attempt to embody these principles while avoiding self-indulgent closet drama. We have continually sought to redefine our position as an alternative playhouse within a changing Denver theatre fabric, and even our productions of more traditional material have been marked by the investigation of unusual and sometimes controversial post-modern performance techniques.
Financially, we are well-respected in the community for sound management and for paying our bills on time. In addition, we are the only small theatre in the area to have consistently paid all artistic and production personnel substantial honoraria. We are most proud at having operated our program at over 75% earned income over the years. Our unearned support has been both public and private. We have been partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, the Colorado Council on the Arts & Humanities, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, in addition to numerous foundations, corporations, and individuals. In 1987-88, we successfully mounted a major fund drive, raising $75,000 to purchase and renovate our current home. For this drive, we received substantial grants from Gates Foundation, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, and from Honeywell, Inc. In December of 2012, we sold our building and are currently looking for another site to continue our operations.
Our seven-member Board of Directors meets annually. Its members possess skills and experience in accounting, law, business, a broad spectrum of the arts, public service, and enterprise. In addition, because of their long-time residence in Denver, each member has established myriad professional and personal contacts in the community that have advised and assisted Germinal Stage consistently over the years.
We are "amateurs" in the best sense of the word--performing for love of the art, while at the same time making the most stringent demands on our performers' time and talents. Our demands on our core audience have been strict, but we have found that it is willing to learn and grow with us. We are committed to the front range community and find it provides an exciting and invigorating atmosphere in which to create.