About the Theater
Portland Center Stage at The Armory inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. It is the largest theater company in Portland and among the top 20 regional theaters in the country. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994 and has been under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman since 2000. An estimated 150,000 visitors attend The Armory annually to enjoy a mix of classical, contemporary and world premiere productions, along with the annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival, and a variety of high quality education and community programs. Home to two theaters, The Armory was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places — and the first performing arts venue in the country — to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.
Portland Center Stage inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways.
Theater brings us together, to sit near one another, to hear stories, to lift our voices in song. Theater creates worlds like no others. Its immediacy cannot be duplicated. Its intensity cannot be matched. A playwright’s miraculous words, directed with insight and acted with passion, elicit laughter, sorrow, astonishment, enlightenment and inspiration. Suddenly, we are not alone.
At a time in our history when we all wonder how we can live together on this planet, our need for community feels more important than ever. When we gather in the theater, feelings are magnified, commonalities are illuminated, prejudices are challenged and our hearts are opened.
Theater is communal. An actor speaks a playwright’s words. Another answers. Dialogue begins; melody rises. The audience adds its own energy, rhythm, breath; harmony emerges — all of it entwining together in a shared experience of power and exhilaration.
When we opened our new venue at The Armory, we promised a new vision, new energy, a new attitude and new work. Today, there is fire onstage, excitement in the building and high anticipation as we bring you magnificent writers of timeless stories. And each is offered with the vigor, verve and vitality you’ve come to expect from Portland Center Stage at The Armory.
Portland Center Stage at The Armory 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, after five successful seasons, the Festival’s Board of Directors approved a recommendation from its Portland ad hoc committee that the Portland branch become an independent theater company, starting with the 1994-1995 season. In the spring of 1994, Elizabeth Huddle was selected as Producing Artistic Director to oversee both the artistic and administrative sides of the company.
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 build a new theater complex in the historic First Regiment Armory Annex building. The new facility houses a 590-seat the U.S. Bank Main Stage; 190-seat Ellyn Bye Studio; administrative offices; a rehearsal hall; and production facilities.
The Armory opened to the public with a community celebration on October 1, 2006.
Board of Directors
Ted Austin, Chair
Senior Vice President, The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank
Betsy Henning, Vice-Chair
CEO and Founder, AHA! Strategic Communications
Brigid Flanigan, Treasurer
President, Shamrock Holdings, LLC
Steven E. Wynne, Secretary
Executive Vice President, Moda Health
Mary Boyle, Immediate Past Chair
Chris Coleman, President
Artistic Director, Portland Center Stage
Sharon Barnes, Community Volunteer
Phil Beyl, President, GBD Architects
Sarah Crooks, Partner, Perkins Coie, LLP
Evelyn Crowell, Retired, Portland State University
Gustavo J. Cruz, Jr., Senior Council, Farleigh Wada Witt
Lana Finley, Community Activist
Diana Gerding, Community Volunteer
Mike Golub, COO, Portland Timbers
Lani Hayward, Executive VP, Creative Strategies, Umpqua Holdings Corp
Greg Hazelton, Senior Vice President & CFO, NW Natural
Tasca Gulick, Community Activist
Yuki “Lynne” Johnston, Advocate for the Arts
Kevin Kelly, Retired
Jim Knoll, President, Knoll Mediation
Karen O’Connor Kruse, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP
Dedre Marriott, Community Volunteer
Charles McGee, President and CEO, Black Parent Initiative
Peter Potwin, Retired, CFO, Benson Industries, Inc.
Dennis Rawlinson, Firm Chair & Partner, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP
Joe Sawicki, Vice President and General Manager, Mentor Graphics, Design - To - Silicon Division
Marcy Schwartz, Senior Vice President, CH2M HILL
Ann E. Smith Sehdev, Physician, Cascade Pathology
Doug Smith, Retired, Senior Vice President, AMEC
J. Greg Ness, Director Emeritus. Chairman, President & CEO, Standard Insurance, StanCorp Financial Group
Pat Ritz, Director Emeritus. Chairman and CEO, Footwear Specialties International
Julie Vigeland, Director Emeritus. Civic Volunteer