NewGate Theatre is committed to engaging diverse artists and audiences through affordable, compelling, new and established work of social and cultural relevance.
A History of NewGate Theatre
NewGate Theatre began its life 13 years ago, but the roots of this unique company can be traced to the early 80’s. Eight local actors had become frustrated by the lack of opportunity for challenging theater in Rhode Island. In 1983, the group decided to stage a production of Ermyntrude and Esmeralda, a play adapted by then-Trinity Repertory Company member Melanie Jones, who also directed. The play was presented outdoors in the gated garden behind Amara's restaurant on Wickenden Street in Providence. This company of young theatre artists dubbed themselves Wickenden Gate Theatre.
At the same time, a small group of local playwrights were equally frustrated with the lack of opportunities to present their work. That same year, 1983, they began to present staged readings of their work to whoever might be interested. Apparently a lot of people were, because the collective of playwrights soon began producing an annual new play festival featuring both their work and the work of other Rhode Island writers. Fittingly enough, the group became the Rhode Island Playwrights’ Theatre.
The two theatres attracted many local theatre artists and both received critical and popular acclaim. Both also struggled to make ends meet. In 1991, after several discussions between the two groups and driven by a mutual need for survival, Wickenden Gate and Rhode Island Playwrights Theatre agreed to a merger. Actually, to be more precise, they were married! Then-Mayor Vincent A. Cianci performed the ceremony with RIPT’s board president serving as the “groom” and Wickenden Gate’s managing director as the “bride.” The name NewGate was chosen for this distinctive new theatre and the company took residence in Wickenden Gate’s existing space, a loft above the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church. NewGate soon emerged as one of Providence’s leading “off-Trinity” theatres, attracting a solid audience base and critical acclaim. While maintaining a commitment to new plays, the company began producing more socially relevant work and adding offbeat comedies as well.
NewGate soon emerged as one of Providence’s leading “off-Trinity” theatres, attracting a solid audience base and critical acclaim. While maintaining a commitment to new plays, the company began producing more socially relevant work and adding offbeat comedies as well. Among the diverse productions NewGate has offered are:
A Blithering Christmas (Gorey)
Beyond Therapy (Durang)
Buried Child (Shepard)
The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)
Gays of Our Lives (Allen)
Glengarry Glen Ross (Mamet)
A Lie of the Mind (Shepard)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Martin)
The Servant of Two Masters (Goldoni)
Six Degrees of Separation (Guare)
Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (Fraser)
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (Busch)
Waiting for Godot (Beckett)
In the spring of 2000, the Church needed to utilize the loft space for its own needs and ended the lease with NewGate. Through the generosity of other Providence theatres NewGate was able to mount a successful three-production season later that year. Unfortunately, changes in the national and local economy hindered NewGate from finding a new home that was suitable and affordable. Out of necessity, the theatre shut down.
Now, with an energized new board of directors, NewGate Theatre is rising again.