Manbites Dog Theater – that bold upstart, that instigator, that model of theatrical activism; the mature presenter of new theatre for the thinking class; a support system for independent art theater in Durham and the Triangle. One felt (an) open welcome in the rooms, even in the early itinerant years, but in the theater’s 20 years in its own space on Foster Street, it has become an important physical spot in the urban intellectual fabric, a nexus of art and politics, a crossroads of thought and emotion, and a haven for those who care about such things… It’s a theatrical home to some wonderful actors and directors and designers, many of whom have worked together for three decades now to mine the human psyche and put its intricacy and simplicity before us through the words of playwrights they’ve pondered together. If there is ever to be a great pax humanitas, it may rise up from a theatre such as this, where the hard work of the humanities goes on late into the night, year after year.”KATE DOBBS ARIAIL ON THE ARTS. The Five Points Star.
A Short History of Manbites Dog Theater.
Manbites Dog Theater was founded in Durham in 1987 as a professional alternative company. In 1998 Manbites Dog purchased a building near downtown and opened it to the public as a permanent performance space, enabling a significant increase in both the quality and amount of work created. Over the years, Manbites Dog received enthusiastic response from audiences and critics. Productions regularly drew full houses, and made “Best of the Year” lists in local media. Four of its original productions – Indecent Materials (1990), Plays Well With Others (2002), Bucknaked (2003), and Silver River (2004) – have had subsequent runs or showcase presentations in New York. In its 31 seasons, Manbites produced over 150 shows and showcased dozens of guest artists and companies in its Other Voices Series.
In the summer of 2017 Manbites Dog announced plans to sell its building during its 2017-18 season and at the end of the season to begin transitioning at the end of the season from a producing theater to a service organization for local and regional theater communities. The building was sold in December 2017, and the final production was staged there in June 2018. The company has since moved to a small office near downtown Durham, transferred the assets from the sale of the building into a managed fund at the Triangle Community Foundation, and with its board begun planning its role as grant-making organization.
Thank you to everyone who participated in an amazing 31-year theatrical journey with us – the best theater artists, supporters, volunteers, and audiences a company could ask for. We hope you are looking forward as much as we are to what comes next.Check Out Unleashed: 25 Years of Manbites Dog Theater Manbites Dog Theater Website
Manbites Dog Theater Company is a professional theater company formed to foster, promote, and increase public knowledge and appreciation of theater primarily in the Triangle (Durham-Raleigh-Chapel Hill) region of North Carolina. We do this through educational activities and by sponsoring live theater performances and encouraging public interest in—and discussion of—live theater. Because we believe that theater should challenge as well as entertain, Manbites Dog Theater strives to award grants that foster, promote, and highlight unfamiliar and exciting playwrights, new scripts, and on collaborative events staged by visual and performing artists that might not otherwise be seen in our community.
Manbites Dog in Transition. 2018.
Thirty-one years ago, Manbites Dog Theater began with a question. How do we make Larry Kramer’s landmark play The Normal Heart an urgent part of our community’s conversation? Our answer to that question was Manbites Dog’s first season.
Every season since then, Manbites Dog has been a bold experiment. For three decades, together with you, we have produced and presented more than 200 shows. Together with you, we have beaten the odds, surviving and thriving year after year. Together with you, we have created and supported vital live theater in Durham and the Triangle.
We know that the richest, most interesting, most provocative stories are catalyzed by moments of change. Just as there was a pivotal moment to transition from life as a mostly itinerant theater company into a company with its own home, this moment feels like the right time for a new chapter in the Manbites Dog story.
It’s time for us to seed the next generation of theater-makers.
Some of these theater artists you already know, some are just emerging—and some are searching for encouragement to begin. We are thrilled that the sale of 703 Foster Street will enable Manbites Dog to nurture their tremendous creative energy. If we believe in theater, then we also believe that theater starts dialogue. Our world is deeply in need of dialogue, and we want to continue to support artists whose work contributes to that conversation.
For us—Ed and Jeff—Manbites Dog in all its iterations will be, in the end, what we have done in this life, as partners, as professionals, as part of a larger community. We dreamed of making theater in a place where our work was respected by our collaborators and our neighborhood, and where we could learn from the work of other theater artists and from the community in which we made our art.
We are blessed because that dream came true for us with Manbites Dog, and we want to help make that dream come true for others.
Thank you for being part of this 31 years. Let’s continue, together.
We can’t wait to see what happens next.
With love, gratitude, and joy,
Ed and Jeff
Manbites Dog Theater is ready for a new adventure.
In our first 10 years, beginning in 1987, we were a vagabond theater company with small resources and big things to say: Manbites Dog, Stage 1.
Then, in 1997, came the long-dreamed-of purchase of a permanent home, our building at 703 Foster Street. For 20 years, we have produced our own work and hosted other theater companies and artists here: Manbites Dog, Stage 2.
And now: 2018.
Manbites Dog Stage 3 will be a transition to a new way of fulfilling our mission: serving as a funding and support agency exclusively for theater companies and artists in this region.
This year’s 31st season will mark our historic final season at 703 Foster Street. With help from stalwart Manbites Dog donors, amazingly talented artists, and loyal theater-loving audiences, we will celebrate the season in grand style by making and sharing timely, provocative, live theater.
Later in the season, Manbites Dog will sell our Foster Street building and place the proceeds in our new agency fund at Triangle Community Foundation.
When the season ends in June, Manbites Dog will take a sabbatical to plan and organize Manbites Dog Stage 3. And then—using our agency fund—we’ll continue our mission to nurture local theater artists and help strengthen this region’s theatrical community.
We hope you’ll join us to celebrate our final season at 703 Foster Street and continue with us on this amazing journey.
It’s going to be fun.
See you soon at Manbites Dog.
The Board of Manbites Dog Theater
Michael Hayes (President), Edward Hunt, John Martin, Edith McMillan, Alice Sharpe, Jeff Storer, Monique Velasquez