HISTORY & MISSION
Second Stage Theater produces work entirely by 21st century American playwrights both on and off Broadway. Dedicated to adventurous contemporary plays and musicals, bold new interpretations, and unique theatrical experiences, the work at Second Stage reflects diversity and inclusiveness. Through the discovery of emerging talent and the commissioning of new work, Second Stage nurtures future generations of theater artists. Second Stage welcomes a theatergoing audience of all backgrounds.
Second Stage Theater was founded in 1979 to produce “second stagings” of contemporary American plays that deserved to reach a wider audience. We soon expanded this mission to produce new plays by our developing corps of writers. Over time, our dedication to telling essential American stories in their most exciting forms has come to include genre-bending solo performances, cutting-edge theatrical events, explosive new musicals, and world and New York premieres by America’s most esteemed playwrights.
Second Stage is committed to supporting both established and emerging artists. Commissions and artist residencies nurture playwrights, directors, designers, and actors in the creation of work that speaks to our contemporary moment. 2ST UPTOWN launches the hottest young talents with full productions and developmental support. And our Van Lier Fellowship program offers a training base for the next generation of directors. Dedicated to developing not only artists but artistic community, Second Stage builds future audiences by educating young people about the art of contemporary theater and encouraging their participation in the cultural life of New York City.
For more than three decades, Second Stage Theater productions have launched the successful careers of numerous directors, actors, playwrights and artists, many of whom regularly return to work at Second Stage. Under the artistic direction of co-founder Carole Rothman, Second Stage Theater produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America’s best contemporary theater, including the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner Between Riverside and Crazy; 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes; 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson, Benj Paskek and Justin Paul; The Last Five Yearsby Jason Robert Brown; Dogfight by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Peter Duchan; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage; Trust and Lonely, I’m Not by Paul Weitz; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz; Everyday Rapture by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith; Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo; Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl; The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; Jitney by August Wilson; Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West; Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein; Crowns by Regina Taylor; Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim; Afterbirth: Kathy & Mo’s Greatest Hits by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy; This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants by Ricky Jay; Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe; A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller; Little Murders by Jules Feiffer; The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry; and Tiny Alice by Edward Albee.
The company’s more than 130 citations include 2017 Tony Awards for Dear Evan Hansen including Best Musical, Best Original Score (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), Best Leading Actor (Ben Platt), Best Featured Actress (Rachel Bay Jones), Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire), and Best Book (Steven Levenson); 2009 Tony Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley, Next to Normal) and Best Score and Best Orchestrations (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal); the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed); the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin, …Spelling Bee) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler, …Spelling Bee); the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses); the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 29 Obie Awards, 8 Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Clarence Derwent Awards, 13 Drama Desk Awards, 9 Theater World Awards, 20 Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Critics Circle Award and 23 AUDELCO Awards.
In 1999, Second Stage Theater opened its state-of-the-art, 296-seat theater at 43rd Street, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The Second Stage Theater Uptown series was inaugurated in 2002 to showcase the work of emerging artists at the McGinn/Cazale Theater at 76th Street; productions include The Mystery Plays by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman, The Triple Happiness by Brooke Berman, Swimming in the Shallows by Adam Bock, Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, Bachelorette by Leslye Headland, Warrior Class by Kenneth Lin, and Murder For Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair.
In 2011 the 43rd Street Theater was named after long-time Chairman of the Board, Anthony C.M. Kiser, and became "The Tony Kiser Theater."
In 2015, Second Stage purchased the historic Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway. With this new home, Second Stage will be the only theater company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to developing and producing works by living American playwrights.