Open Circle Theater Company

Seattle, Washington

Founded in 1992, Open Circle Theater is a multi-disciplinary performance company committed to the development of new works and adaptations that speak to the human condition through fantasy and mythic storytelling.

Welcome to the home the most thrilling and fantastical theater you will find in Seattle!

Throughout our seasons, Open Circle’s resident company unites with local diretors, musicians, visual artists and performers, to bring fresh insight and invention to our creations of highly physical, ensemble-style theater. Join us as we reinvent the theatrical experience.

In Theater News:
Open Circle Theater Is Dead, Long Live The Schoolyard

"We are officially a non-operational entity."

Thus began the email sent to Seattlest by Gary Zinter, Open Circle Theater's Artistic Director. The statement is not reflected on Open Circle's website or Facebook page, though it is repeated on Zinter's personal page. If true, and we see no reason not to believe it to be the case, it would be the end of one of Seattle's oldest Fringe theaters; the company was about to celebrate its 20th season in existence.

It hadn't always been a smooth existence, as previously described on Seattlest, but it was a tenure marked with some truly remarkable highs to balance out the lows. As with many theater companies that were created in the 90s, it started with a small project put on by like-minded individuals -- a 1992 dual production of Savage Love and Stonewater Rapture that took place at the now-defunct Northwest Actor's Studio, where the Annex now resides. An acclaimed production a the Seattle Fringe Theater Festival came the following year, and soon after they set about fulfilling their mission statement full time: "Fantastical theater for a daring audience."

In the years that followed, OCT was host to a large number of Seattle's talent who later went on to be prominently featured on Seattle's bigger stages. Members of its company have gone on to become members of the famed UMO Ensemble; actors like Brandon Whitehead and Basil Harris have been featured; regular collaborations with legendary sketch group Bald Face Lie were once a staple. It was the home of a couple of Jeff Goode premiere productions (The Eight Reindeer Monologues and Poona the Fuckdog) which are now regularly produced throughout the US. Recent Stranger Genius Award recipient John Osebold's first band, Player King, was OCT's house band for a season, and his later art-rock project, "Awesome", had its roots in a benefit production for the company. (Full disclosure: Your correspondent was a company member from 1998 - 2005.)

Most famously, OCT is featured in Mike Daisey's How Theater Failed America; the anecdote regarding an infamous production of Genet's The Balcony was an Open Circle joint.

Recently, the company were forced to move from its South Lake Union home and relocated to Belltown, where they took up residence at Aha! Theater's old space. The move proved to be costly, and caused a bit of a financial strain earlier this year, despite critically successful productions in recent years. They moved out of this last space in the summer, at the end of their lease, as a result.

Though the company is no longer in existence, the remaining forces have re-grouped in order to create the Schoolyard. Not much is known about this new entity, although their first production is a remount of the The Rocky Horror Show that Open Circle had box office success with this last March. Rocky will be seen at Rebar, a place where the company has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration in the past. We wish the people at the Schoolyard the best of luck.

RIP Open Circle Theater 1992 - 2011.