Starting Gate theater to end its run

After eight years running in the city of St. Paul, Starting Gate Productions has decided to close the gate for good, citing the recession and financial woes as the primary factors in the decision.

The company, which got its start performing in the Loading Dock back in 2001, has produced 36 shows in its life span, and is producing a 37th, called “Our Country’s Good,” to bring the company to an end. All actors, producers and designers have agreed to do the show on a pro bono basis to help the organization pay down its debt.

According to a press release, the theater has suffered a decline in attendance in the past two years which it attributes to the recession. In addition, it cited “a chronic shortage of administrators willing to work for free” as a deciding factor. Don Eitel, former Starting Gate Artistic Director, left the company in 2007 to work as the managing director of Mu Performing Arts.

“Our Country’s Good,” which runs April 23 – May 16, is a “dramedy” about the first play produced in Britain’s Austrailian penal colony , and features a return of many of Starting Gate’s core performers. According to the theater, the play was chosen to end Starting Gate’s run because “it’s message regarding the redemptive power of theater provides us with the opportunity to reaffirm the artist’s firm belief in this medium’s potential to transform lives.”

Performances take place at The Mounds Theatre in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, where Starting Gate has made its home since 2004.

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