What is Studio Roanoke?
Studio Roanoke is a 60-seat black box theatre dedicated to building a home for new plays and the people who create them. We are a place where playwrights are nurtured and developed as well as their plays, the wide array of artists who must collaborate to mount a production, and the audiences who attend those productions. We are an experiential learning lab where conventional ideas of what is theatre can be tested and expanded. Studio Roanoke is a place of learning and doing, a place where risks can be taken. Above all, it is a community based on collaboration rather than competition, where the risks and the rewards are shared.
How and why did Studio Roanoke get started?
In 2008, playwright Kenley Smith realized that there were fewer and fewer venues where new work could be mounted in front of a live audience in our community. Passionate about playwriting, Ken believes our community needs a place where we can see exciting new plays created by interesting new writers and performers. He realized that if he waited for someone else to take action, he'd wait forever.
Ken purchased a building downtown and hired architect James Ruhland III of Community Design Studio and contracted with R.L. Price Construction to transform that building into the kind of black box theatre famous for doing new plays in Off-Broadway.
This is what the inside of the building at 30 Campbell Avenue looked like in 2008:
This is what the same building looked like one year later:
On opening night -- April 28, 2009:
Up From the
Lunar Surface -- August, 2010:
Ken named the building the K. W. "Pete" Smith Theatre, and christened the stage after his mother, Virginia Counts Smith. He crafted a mission statement for the not-for-profit theatre company that would take up residence in his building and start helping playwrights get their work up on his stage. He gathered a Board of Trustees who shared his passion and his vision, and named the theatre company Studio Roanoke.
The Board hired Todd Ristau to serve as Studio Roanoke's first Artistic Director.
Todd resigned in May of 2010 to devote himself to his Hollins playwriting program, and
Kenley succeeded him as Artistic Director.
Melora Kordos became Artistic Director in August, 2011, allowing Kenley to
return to his first passion -- writing plays.
Studio Roanoke is a federally registered 501c3 non-profit organization and contributions made to us are tax deductible within the charitable giving regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. A copy of the IRS approval letter is available upon request.