Centre Stage’s mission is to produce diverse theatre, support local artists, and provide dynamic outreach opportunities.
Founded in 1983, by Douglas P. McCoy (1937-2005), Centre Stage is a year-round, 285-seat regional theater offering a wide range of entertainment within easy walking distance of historic Falls Park and the many shops and restaurants that line downtown Greenville’s Main Street corridor. Augmenting its subscription season of music, comedy and drama, the theater also hosts art exhibitions, chamber music concerts, independent film screenings, guest lectures, galas and other special events inside a state-of-the-art performance facility noted for its unique configuration, comfort and intimacy.
Prior to 1997, Centre Stage presented its productions in various locations, including the Greenville County Museum of Art, St. Mary’s Church gymnatorium, the Greenville School District’s Fine Arts Center and a building leased for ten years at the corner of Washington and Academy Streets. In December 1996, under the leadership of Doug McCoy, ground was broken for the theater’s current location at 501 River Street where it now occupies 10,000 square feet of the 30,000 square-foot Morgan Stanley-Smith Barney Building. Centre Stage took occupancy of this venue on October 1, 1997.
In April, 1998 Centre Stage was designated as a Constituent Member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), whose mission is to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre, and remains so to this day. Centre Stage also is a member of the Professional Division of the Southeastern Theater Conference (SETC). Two to three times a year, the theater’s artistic staff attends unified auditions hosted by both SETC and the Metrolina (Charlotte, NC) Theatre Association.
Members in good standing of Actors Equity Association (AEA) work at Centre Stage under the AEA Guest Artist Contract, which determines compensation and certain working conditions. A copy of the theater’s compensation policy for non-Equity professionals may be obtained by contacting the business office.
Centre Stage is known for its original works which began under the guidance of Doug McCoy. His original works include: 1957 Diva Heaven; The Best of Boots; Boots, Beer & Country Music; Boots, Beer, Bubble Gum & Loafers; Tony and the Diva’s; and A Diva Holiday. CSSC has continued this successful run with Country Queens, Rock ‘n Roll Heaven I & II and Kings of Country and Their Queens. CSSC will continue to put original productions in their season lineups for many years to come.
On May 15, 2010, Glenda ManWaring replaced BJ Koonce as Executive Director. Koonce had succeeded Founding Artistic Director Douglas P. McCoy in March of 2005. Koonce, a national voiceover artist and regional performer, served for six years as executive director before rejoining FernCreek in May 2010. Koonce, was also a founder of The Warehouse Theatre, serving as president of that organization’s board of directors during its relocation to its current space in the West End. During BJ’s tenure, Centre Stage more than doubled its membership, its income and tripled its staff.
Today, Centre Stage productions draw on both local and regional talent and its programming places particular emphasis on new works and established works of the modern repertoire. Its annual New Play Festival (NPF) receives hundreds of submissions from playwrights around the country and abroad. NPF finalists are presented in readers theater format during the week-long festival. Playwright Lee Blessing (2007 NPF Playwright-in-Residence) has described the festival as “one of the most important elements of contemporary play development (in) the region.”
Collaborative relationships cultivated in recent years by Centre Stage have positioned it uniquely as a holistic center for the arts in Greenville. Examples of these collaborations include the Spotlight Chamber Music Series presented by the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Gallery at Centre Stage, in which the Metropolitan Arts Council presents no fewer than six visual art exhibitions each year. Collaborations with area colleges and universities have resulted in classes taught by Centre Stage staff in the public secondary schools, college-level classes taught by university professors in the theater and numerous faculty members serving as production personnel throughout the year.
From its refusal to compromise artistic standards to its consistent focus on every detail of the patron experience, Centre Stage strives to create an atmosphere that excites, energizes and elevates each person with whom it comes in contact. This is the brand of professional theater to which Centre Stage subscribes … and one we hope you’ll give us the opportunity to demonstrate to you in the very near future.