The Cutting Ball Theater was founded in 1999 by theater artists Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers. After their training at the Yale School of Drama and Trinity Rep Conservatory respectively, Melrose and Rogers spent a year in Europe on a Fox Foundation Grant to observe master directors in France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. Upon returning to the United States, the couple debated about where to found a theater company with the goal of creating work of the same daring, rigor, arresting design and production values as the plays they had seen in Europe. They narrowed it down to New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Providence and ultimately chose San Francisco for its rich history of experimental art and commitment to the arts. The theater was founded with a mission is to develop productions of experimental new plays and re-visioned classics, with an emphasis on language and images.
Following its beginnings in the San Francisco Fringe Festival, Cutting Ball has produced over twenty productions. Since 2008 Cutting Ball has been the resident theater company at the EXIT on Taylor. Our programming focuses on the development and production of new experimental plays, new translations, and bold interpretations of classic plays. We produce a full season of new work and original interpretations of classics; Avant GardARAMA!, which features short experimental plays; The Hidden Classics Reading Series on select Sunday afternoons; and RISK IS THIS… The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. One of the only festivals in North America calling exclusively for experimental work, RISK IS THIS…features five plays workshopped for a week and culminating in a staged reading before an audience.
In the twelve years since its founding, The Cutting Ball Theater has gained important recognition for its contributions to theater in the Bay Area and beyond. Artistic Director Rob Melrose was one of seven directors in the country to be awarded a 2007 NEA / TCG Career Development Program grant. Under his leadership, productions of plays by Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, Heiner Müller, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Bernard-Marie Koltès, Richard Foreman, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Mac Wellman, Marcus Gardley, Will Eno, and world premieres by Eugenie Chan and Kevin Oakes have earned Cutting Ball a 2010 “Best of the Bay” award from the SF Bay Guardian,” a “Best of the Bay 2007” from San Francisco Magazine, “Best of SF 2006” from SF Weekly, and a 2008 “Goldie Award.” Cutting Ball has been nominated for 12 BATCC awards, and won four including “Best Production” for our 2010 production of … And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi and 2008 production of Victims of Duty.