Theater Schmeater celebrates 20 years on Capitol Hill as Volunteer Park shows begin

(Image: TomM for CHS)

Theater Schmeater is midway through its 20th year on Capitol Hill. Home to staged versions of everything from old Twilight Zone episodes, to shows like Reservoir Dolls (an all-female version of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs), the Schmee runs the gamut. The current production in the fifty seat theater on Summit and Pike is Parallel Lives, which opened this month and runs through August 11.

Starting today, Saturday June 30th, Theater Schmeater will also be putting on free performances in Volunteer Park. The play is Hansel and Gretel by Sally Gander, and it deals with the aftermath of the witch burning and what comes next for the children from the fable.

The show will run through August 5th on Saturdays and Sundays at 5:00PM.

If you like the material, the man to thank is artistic director JD Lloyd. He has the final say on what plays are chosen for the season. The simple mission of the theater is to pick what they think are great plays and do them the best and as simply as they can. It’s small budgets, and a small space to put on a show, but as Lloyd sees it, those constraints breed creativity.

“Every once in awhile we like to have the great American play, or the great edgy farce — anything that we consider great theater that will fit in our room without diminishing anything about the story, then we’ll take in on,” said Lloyd.

Tickets for shows at the Summit Ave theater are generally $23 at the door, and $18 through Brown Paper Tickets in advance. “Cheaper than going to the movies would be awesome,” said Lloyd, “but you can’t do that and give the actors something, and give the designers something for their work.” Profits are shared as much as possible. Being a non-profit, there are many volunteer positions within the company. Like most people involved, Lloyd also has a day job.

Lloyd has been the artistic director since 2010. He’s been an actor and director in Seattle since 1994. A big part of the appeal for Lloyd was the presence of managing director Teri Lazzara, who Lloyd described as legendary.

“In my opinion Teri put Theatre Schmeater on her back and rode it through some very rough times in Seattle theater history,” said Lloyd.

In March of this year, Theater Schmeater announced that Lazzara will be leaving the company. It is a bittersweet, but well understood choice. When she departs they may retire her number, and hang her jersey for all to see. It’s that kind of feeling.

With the successor to the much-loved Lazzara still unnamed it remains to be seen what direction the company will take. Many of the actors, directors, and other people involved with the shows come back again and again. It is always people drawn from the greater Seattle theater community. It is people who have a vested interest in having a vibrant local scene, and a love for the work. Theater Schmeater has lasted twenty years, and it looks like it’s not going anywhere. Starting this weekend there will be two productions to take in. One for free in Volunteer Park, and one at the theater on Summit. There are three more shows to come this season, and with luck, many more seasons to come.

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