Good Luck Macbeth Theatre Company’s entire existence is a lesson in defying the odds.
Founded during a recession in 2008, it was named with words usually unutterable in theater circles, as if to flout superstition and taunt naysayers. Since then, the company has continued to stand firm on even the shakiest of ground. Since the pandemic, it’s not only survived, but thrived, repeatedly selling out shows and snagging Best Theater Company honors in the RN&R’s 2022 Best of Northern Nevada readers’ poll.
And now, with a brand-new executive director and a major capital campaign underway, GLM intends to do what it has always done: succeed, despite the odds.
Changes at the top
Sarah Hinz, who took the helm as executive director just three months ago, knew this was a winning company when she moved here from New York in the summer of 2020.
“I was really worried about the art scene in Reno, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how big it actually is, and the work is so good,” she said. “… I’ve been blown away by the talent here.”
Hinz’s background includes formal theater-development training from the University of Minnesota, starting up Minneapolis’ What’s Next Productions theater company as managing director, and producing shows in New York (including a popular improv show, Sex Ed: a sexprov). Then the pandemic brought live theater to a screeching halt; when her boyfriend landed a job in Reno, she followed, reluctantly.
Before long, she was co-producing The 24-Hour Plays: Reno at Reno Little Theater. It was during this time that she learned of the impending departure of GLM’s longtime executive director, Christopher Daniels, and the need to replace him; she applied. Daniels—who, for many, embodied the company and was a major part of GLM shows’ appeal—would remain local but transition into a life-coaching career; his last show as executive director was GLM’s fall production of Evil Dead: The Musical. Hinz was thankful to have him by her side to slowly, gracefully hand over the baton.
“It’s an adjustment, because Chris and I have worked so closely together for such a long time,” said artistic director Joe Atack, who joined GLM with Daniels in 2013 and worked with the board and GLM staff to interview potential replacements. “But it’s also really been a gift to assess what we’re doing and see how we can do things more efficiently, and Chris has really been part of that, helping Sarah transition into the company.”
One of Hinz’s first major tasks was helping to create the 2023 season, the lineup for which was only released in mid-December. GLM is remaining on brand, with its commitment to brave new works, outrageous comedies, improvisation and plays that explore controversial issues. Hinz’s own Sex Ed improv show kicks things off in February, featuring Hinz in her directorial debut, and Daniels himself as improv director. The roster also includes three comedic parodies, including two GLM originals—Shark!, a Jaws parody, and Die Difficult, a Die Hard riff—plusWilliam Goldman’s parody of Stephen King’s Misery. There’s also the recurring Ten 10-Minute Plays Festival, as well as two provocative works that deal with gender expression (Men on Boats) and women’s reproductive rights (Keely and Du).
And if all goes well, Hinz’s tenure will also feature the purchase and full renovation of GLM’s existing Midtown theater space, cementing its presence for many years to come.
Building a future
When Daniels shared the news in 2018 that GLM had moved into its current space on Taylor Street in Midtown, he called it “a miracle” that frequent GLM player Amanda Alvey happened upon the space for rent just as the team was looking to move out of its tight quarters on South Virginia Street. But the five-year lease they signed meant they needed to form a long-term strategy.
“The current owner of the building has always been supportive of us and of having the arts here,” Atack said, adding that a lack of inventory and rising rents are particularly troublesome for arts organizations—especially for those, like GLM, that are committed to paying their staffs at least a stipend for their work. “The rental value of this place is something like 141% higher than what we pay … and a lot of our money already goes toward rent. So the long-term vision is for stability.”
Atack then gestured around the theater where we were sitting during our December chat, to indicate the equipment currently being stashed here for the Reno Jazz Orchestra’s holiday show. “And then it comes down to other issues. It’s not just about money, but it’s also about capacity—the capacity to pay our artists, but also to fit them in. … The only way to really grow the company is to grow the size of the audience.”
He explains that in addition to GLM’s own mainstage shows—about five a year—the company rents out its space to other local performing arts companies, like the RJO. It’s an important source of income and helps address the lack of space most local companies face, but the small venue limits to whom and how often GLM can rent the space.
Thus, Elevate was born. It’s a capital campaign to raise the money to purchase the $1.4 million building and complete a $2.6 million renovation and expansion. The down payment of $420,000 is due in the new year—half at the end of January, the other half in late March. The current owner would hold the note for five years at a fixed 5% interest rate, meaning that GLM has five years to raise the entire $1.4 million.
“But we project being able to raise it sooner,” Atack said.
Following that, plans will begin for a total overhaul of the space. Local architect and fellow actor Lewis Zaumeyer, known for his work with Brüka Theatre, has designed the reimagined space, complete with a second stage upstairs for rehearsals, an additional bathroom, a conference room, an expanded lobby/lounge area with an art gallery space and bar, individual dressing rooms, storage and several classrooms.
Since Elevate kicked off in mid-October, the effort had raised roughly $80,000 as of our interview—nearly half of its January payment—thanks mostly to individual donors and one early-December fundraising event. The second will be a cabaret-style show on Valentine’s Day. To encourage donations, Atack emphasized the perk of naming a part of the theater after you—a seat for $500, or a room, or even the whole building, if the price is right. Atack and Hinz point out that GLM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so donations are tax deductible.
Atack is so enthusiastic that he encouraged potential donors to stop by and have a look at the plans.
“When I first came on, Joe and Chris walked me around the space, and it just made me so excited,” Hinz said. “If anyone is interested in supporting us and wants a tour, we’re happy to bring you through.”
For details about GLM’s upcoming season or how to make a donation to Elevate, visit www.goodluckmacbeth.org.