Portland Center Stage is the largest theater company in Portland, Oregon, and our mission is to create transcendent theatrical experiences and community programs that break down the barriers separating people. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994. PCS’s home is at The Armory, a historic building originally constructed in 1891. After a major renovation, The Armory opened in 2006 as the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, the first performing arts venue in the country, and the first building in Portland, to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. Each season, roughly 150,000 visitors attend PCS to enjoy a mix of classical, contemporary, and world premiere productions, along with PCS's annual JAW New Play Festival, and a variety of high-quality education and community programs.
Portland Center Stage exists to create transcendent theatrical experiences and community programs that break down the barriers separating people.
Portland Center Stage’s vision is to support our community in celebrating the full scope of humanity, appreciating difference, and fostering belonging.
Equity & Anti-Racism
We pursue a fair and just society for all people, with attention to those who have been marginalized by systemic racism and other forms of oppression. We aim for integrity, transparency, and accountability within our organization and public programs.
We seek to foster belonging among diverse communities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We encourage ourselves to bring hospitality, empathy, and generosity to working relationships and audience connections.
We spotlight a wide variety of stories and perspectives, influencing the larger field that links art with social justice. We model this by staging high-quality productions that feel daring and inclusive.
We aspire to be thoughtful financial and environmental stewards. This calls us to use resources carefully, prioritize financial stability, and be environmentally conscious.
We are not afraid to rebuild and reimagine. We try to remain nimble and flexible to meet opportunities as they arise.
Theater often brings productive discomfort to the surface. Portland Center Stage is committed to grappling with that discomfort, on and off the stage, and we invite members of our community to participate in that growth process with us. Our goal is to co-create safety for our community by identifying and interrupting instances of racism and all forms of oppression when we witness them, through specific actions rooted in the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA).
Portland Center Stage began as OSF Portland, the northern sibling of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. After years of planning and preparation, the company was successfully launched on November 12, 1988, with an opening night performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House and a gala celebration. With Dennis Bigelow as artistic producer, the company grew steadily in its first four years, producing five to six shows each season at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. In the fall of 1992, Pat Patton was named associate artistic director/Portland by OSF and guided the company's growth for the next two seasons, its last as a branch of OSF.
In September 1993, OSF's Board of Directors approved a recommendation from its Portland advisory committee that the Portland branch become an independent theater company. So after six successful seasons at OSF, Elizabeth Huddle was selected as producing artistic director in 1994, to oversee both the artistic and administrative sides of the newly independent company: Portland Center Stage. 1999 marked the launch of Portland Center Stage's JAW New Play Festival, dedicated to developing new work, championing exciting voices, and connecting with the community through the creation process. JAW also lifts up local artists of all disciplines, from dance to visual arts, musicians, and more, who are showcased before and after all of the free play readings.
In May, 2000, Chris Coleman, co-founder and artistic director of Actor’s Express in Atlanta, became the theater’s fourth artistic director. In his first season, he launched several creative initiatives, including the production of A New Brain, the theater’s first musical, and its first second stage production, Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show The Gimmick. Under his leadership, Portland Center Stage received the largest gift in the theater’s history at that time — a $1.35 million, three-year grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. In the 2003-2004 season, Portland Center Stage expanded the number of productions from six to seven and began presenting works in both the Winningstad and Newmark Theatres.
In April 2004, the company announced a $32.9 million capital campaign to create a new theater complex in the historic First Regiment Armory Annex building, originally built in 1891. The facility would house the 590-seat U.S. Bank Main Stage, the 190-seat Ellyn Bye Studio, administrative offices, a rehearsal hall, a costume shop, and other production facilities. The company also continued to rent the 20,000-square-foot warehouse on Front Avenue to construct sets and props.
The Armory opened to the public as the new home of Portland Center Stage on October 1, 2006. The company continued to grow and, in 2017, named Cynthia Fuhrman — one of the original employees from OSF who came to Portland to found the company and contributed to its growth in numerous leadership positions over the decades — as its new managing director.
The following year, Portland Center Stage welcomed Marissa Wolf, the former associate artistic director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, as its fifth artistic director. In her first programmed season, 2019-2020, she launched two world premiere productions and work by notable artists including Lauren Yee, Lee Sunday Evans, and May Adrales. Since then, Marissa has greatly bolstered Portland Center Stage's legacy of supporting and producing new work, including awarding numerous play commissions to both local playwrights and artists from across the country. In 2023, Marissa was joined in leadership by Managing Director Liam Kaas-Lentz.
Portland Center Stage currently offers around nine productions each season, along with more than 400 community events created — in partnership with a dynamic array of local artists, community leaders, and service organizations — to serve the diverse populations in the city. Portland Center Stage has become a major destination, attracting local audiences and travelers from across the country and abroad.
We love our community and always value your input! If you'd like to share your thoughts about Portland Center Stage — or even your stories about your favorite visits to PCS — please don't hesitate to reach out at .
Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).