In March 1995, the Evidence Room, a group of actors, directors, and designers incorporated and founded a theater, a 5800 sq ft warehouse in Culver City. This company of ten raised startup funds, cleaned and converted the space, and created the largest and most versatile equity-waiver venue in L.A. as a home for the company and a place to present other interesting work. In May of that year we opened our first production and one week after it closed, hosted our first co-production, a collaboration with another Los Angeles theater company.
Over the course of the next three years, we staged 12 company productions and presented more than 20 additional projects generated by outside art organizations. We hosted benefits, symposiums, dance performances, art installations, and even an indoor carnival. The Culver City Redevelopment Agency and City Council bestowed production grants on our organization and we developed a partnership with the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts at Culver City High School in which we served on their board, mentored student projects, taught seminars, and provided internships.
In January 1998, our landlord terminated our lease and we began our second building search. Stepping in after months of hapless real estate browsing, the Redevelopment Agency offered us a temporary home in the historic Ivy Substation. For two years at the Ivy, relieved of the draining responsibilities of day-to-day theater operations, the Evidence Room enjoyed even greater success. These productions broke all our previous box office records and won Ovation, LA WEEKLY, and Garland awards; 'Picks of the Week'; 'Critic's Choices; and Top Tens.
In January 2000, the company moved into a new space, a newly renovated 10,000 sq ft warehouse in the Temple-Beverly area of Los Angeles. After months of permitting and remodeling and equipment installing, the new space opened with Charles Mee's THE BERLIN CIRCLE, a production which doubled all previous box office successes, expanded our audience and went on to win more local awards than any other show that year, including the L.A. WEEKLY's 'Production of the Year'.
In our first two seasons on Beverly Blvd., we presented Edward Bond's SAVED; Robert A. Prior's SPEED-HEDDA; Richard Greenberg's THREE DAYS OF RAIN; Friedrich Schiller's DON CARLOS adapted by John Rafter Lee; Charles Mee's THE IMPERIALISTS AT THE CLUB CAVE CANEM; and solo performances by Heather Woodbury and Tony Abatemarco, along with a set of blistering fundraising concerts by Megan Mullally, among many other events.
In the fall of 2001, with the support of the LA County Arts Commission and ASK Theater Projects, we presented the world premiere of Gordon Dahlquist's DELIRIUM PALACE at [Inside] the Ford while we hosted the Mark Taper Forum's New Work Festival at our home space. In 2002, we co-produced Padua Playwrights' world premiere of John Steppling's DOG MOUTH and hosted the Taper's Next Step series. Later that year, we presented David Edgar's epic PENTECOST and in the fall three original plays about Hollywood: Michael Sargent's HOLLYWOOD BURNING, Justin Tanner's HOT PROPERTY, and Peter J. Nieves's CRINGE, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 2002 John Fleck also returned for a sold-out limited run of his NOTHIN' BEATS PUSSY and our original late-night serial, THE STRIP, a living comic book, created by Justin Tanner, Patricia Scanlon and Hugh Palmer, started performances. In December 2002, music-theater auteur Ken Roht and his Orphean Circus created a unique holiday entertainment THE 99-CENT ONLY STORE DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA and established an annual ER tradition.
In 2003, we produced the world premiere of Kelly Stuart's political comedy, MAYHEM, in a sold-out run starring Megan Mullally; the critically acclaimed Orphean Circus event, HE POUNCES; Thornton Wilder's classic THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, which won the LA WEEKLY award for Best Revival of 2003; the world premiere of Gordon Dalquist's haunting MESSALINA; and another successful holiday entertainment, SPLENDOR: A 99-CENT WONDERAMA.
In 2004 we presented Spring Break, a seven-week festival of performance featuring acts and entertainments from a range of local and national performers -- from NYC's RENO, Penny Arcade, and Chris Wells to LA's own John Fleck, Jan Munroe, Heather Woodbury, Jackie Beat and art band My Barbarian. The series capped with a legendary evening featuring KCRW exiles Sandra Tsing Loh and Joe Frank. Our season continued with an original adaptation of Charles Dickens's HARD TIMES and Patricia Scanlon & Hugh Palmer's hilarious Hildy Hildy in THREE FEET UNDER. Throughout the month of August, two world premieres played in repertory: Theatre of Note's extension of Erik Patterson's RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT and Kelly Stuart's outrageous HOMEWRECKER.
2004 closed with Eric Overmyer's theater noir DARK RAPTURE and an enormous holiday extravaganza: PEACE SQUAD GOES 99: THE GREATEST 99¢ ONLY STORY EVER TOLD...EVER! with a cast of 50.
In 2005, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with our most popular season, one that featured a revival of our own production of Philip K. Dick's FLOW MY TEARS THE POLICEMAN SAID, which went on to win the LA WEEKLY Revival of the Year; a bold reimagining of Jean Genet's THE BLACKS; John Olive's pulp homage KILLERS; David Greenspan's uproarious SHE STOOPS TO COMEDY; and finally Ken Roht's 'western' holiday celebration ROUTE 99: ORANGE STAR DINNER SHOW.
In 2006, we presented a long-running revival of Mark Broyard and Roger Guenveur Smith's wild New Orleans tribute INSIDE THE CREOLE MAFIA -- which also went on to win the LA WEEKLY Revival of the Year -- and we brought back THE STRIP for a raucous limited engagement. During the run of INSIDE THE CREOLE MAFIA, we found ourselves in the middle of an irreconcilable lease dispute with our landlords. As the company packed up the theater, we presented a final show to say goodbye to the space, Anton Chekhov's antic elegy, THE CHERRY ORCHARD.
Since 2006, we have continued to produce in partnership with the Unknown Theater on ATTEMPTS ON HER LIFE and more recently with the Odyssey Theatre on THE RECEPTIONIST, MARGO VEIL, and IVANOV. MARGO VEIL recently won the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for 2011's Best Production.
Over the past 17 years, we have received funding from several private foundations including A.S.K. Theatre Projects and the James Irvine Foundation as well as through government agencies -- the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Office, the California Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In recognition of our work, Evidence Room has received 26 Backstage Garland Awards, 20 LA Weekly Theater Awards (among 66 nominations), 4 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards and many Critic's Pick's and year-end Top Tens. The Los Angeles Times recently referred to our organization as 'L.A.'s most valuable rising theater.'