On Stage

Setting a New Stage in Pawtucket

The Burbage Theatre Company finds room to grow in its new home


After spending two years at downtown’s Aurora, which sadly closed its doors at the end of October, Burbage Theatre Company has moved into a space at TEN31 Productions in Pawtucket. According to Artistic Director and President Jeff Church, the move will give Burbage a more permanent setup and
room to grow.

The connection with TEN31 – a company famous for their living statues at WaterFire – was forged mostly through a relationship with Burbage’s executive director, Allison Crews, who had worked with them in the past. “They were very eager to sit down with us, and it was really serendipitous,” says Church. “They knew our theatre intimately and had been coming to see our shows.”

The new location ensures that the company has a more consistent environment. At Aurora, they worked under tight constraints – each show had to be under two hours and the set had to be deconstructed after each performance. “It was great to have a space where we can make our art, but that was wearing on us,” Church says. “Even though we work with well over 100 artists, the core group of our staff is still only five people.”

This change also allows them to integrate more tech and lighting cues into their performances. “Those things really add those extra touches that make it feel like a real theatre space,” he says. “It’s amazing the things that we’re capable of now and how we can complement the storytelling with what we have.”

However, all those new bells and whistles haven’t changed Burbage’s core mission. “My goal for the company has always been to create productions around the actors,” says Church. “Everything else is just icing on the cake.”

Audiences can experience everything Burbage has to offer with performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, running in February and March, and Melissa Ross’ Thinner Than Water in April. Both plays demonstrate this season’s themes of gender and identity as well as the company’s commitment to working with classic and contemporary works. “We want to tell stories that are classic in more than one way,” says Church. “We want to put our stamp on work that stands the test of time. Then, we try to channel that energy into contemporary work that we find particularly compelling.”

With Burbage’s distinct actor-centric focus, Church promises that attendees will be fully swept into the shows. “You’ll forget you’re watching something inherently false,” he says. “We will convince audiences that what they’re
watching is real.”

Burbage Theatre Company
249 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket