The mission of the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance is to inspire, transform and unite the people of the Triad through a broad range of unique, diverse, and unconventional theatrical experiences.
The Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance was founded by director Fred Gorelick in 1983. Gorelick, who taught advanced acting classes at the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem at the time, began producing “showcase” productions to show his students’ work to the public. His tireless energy and tenacity resulted in a permanent functioning theatre, the Winston Salem Theatre Alliance. He would later recall that starting a community theatre company “is one of those things that you only do when you are young and stupid”. Youth and stupidity notwithstanding, Gorelick and his feisty band of thespian “pioneers” built the foundations for one of Winston-Salem’s most respected theatre arts organizations.
During Gorelick’s tenure, WSTA was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, and still operates under that charter. The first production was “The Royal Family”, performed at the Reynolda House, followed by “Crimes of The Heart” at Wake Forest University. Other shows in the 1980’s included “The Real Thing”, “House of Blue Leaves”, “The Crucible”, and “True West”.
Fred Gorelick’s departure from Winston-Salem in 1990 did not herald the end of the Theatre Alliance. The company continued to produce shows on an occasional basis, with volunteer directors taking the task of both directing and producing shows.
In the 1990’s, Michael Huie was appointed Artistic Director of the Theatre Alliance, and held that title for several years. During this time, a more formally structured Board of Directors began to form, with Harold Tedford serving as President. Administrative responsibilities took on greater importance.
The seasons became more ambitious as well. Musicals like “Nunsense” and “Pump Boys and Dinettes” joined serious dramas (e.g., “Burn This”, “The Heidi Chronicles”, “The Children’s Hour”) and uproarious comedies (e.g., “The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged”)
The first decade of the new century saw a departure of Michael Huie as Artistic Director. Again, guest directors were hired to direct shows, with board members taking a greater role in production responsibilities.
Eventually, one of the guest directors, Jamie Lawson, was asked to assume the responsibility of Artistic Director. For the first few years, Lawson relied on himself and guest directors to mount complete seasons of Theatre Alliance productions. Thereafter, Lawson assumed the responsibility of producing and directing all of Theatre Alliance’s shows.
More importantly, the popularity of Theatre Alliance in the community grew in leaps and bounds during the 2000’s. Productions have included a wide variety of adult contemporary comedies and dramas, smaller-scale musicals and area premieres of emerging works with wide-ranging themes. Audiences have flocked to everything from recent award-winning plays (“Love! Valour! Compassion!”, “Take Me Out”) to campy comedies (“Sordid Lives”); from contemporary stage classics (“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Hair”) to not-your-grandmother’s-musicals (“The Rocky Horror Show”, “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”).
Over the years, the Theatre Alliance has produced shows in various venues, including the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Augsburg Community Center, Wake Forest University, and several years at SECCA. On the occasion of its 25th birthday, the Theatre Alliance moved out of other peoples’ basements and into a “home” of its own in the West End of Winston-Salem, at the corner of Reynolda and Northwest Blvd, where it resides today. It hopes to continue entertaining its loyal fans, and winning over new ones, with some of the most interesting and entertaining theatre in the Triad.
JAMIE LAWSON has served as artistic director for Theatre Alliance for several years, taking the theatre company to new heights, and new spaces. Virtually overseeing every aspect of production, Jamie has carried the mission and vision of the company to Triad audiences with his stylish vision.