Intiman Theatre launches its debut season in Kirkland on December 13, 1972.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 9/10/2006
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7838
On December 13, 1972 the Intiman Theatre launches its debut season in Kirkland with a production of Henrik Ibsen's (1828-1906) Rosmersholm at the 65-seat Creative Arts League Theater in Kirkland. The season will continue with August Strindberg's (1849-1912) The Creditors, , Carl Sternheim's (1878-1943) The Underpants, and George Tabori's (b. 1914) Brecht on Brecht.

Dust and a Chill

The cast of Romersholm included Denis Arndt, Jean Marie Kinney, Richard Knisely, James Goodwin Rice, and Lucy Rush.

The Creative Arts League Theater was situated next to the League's pottery room and shared that facility's dust. The backstage area was unheated, making it challenging for actors and theater technicians to keep warm. The audience, too, was sometimes forced to watch performances wrapped in coats or blankets.

Margaret Booker (b. 1942), a former Fulbright Lecturer in Sweden who studied with Ingmar Bergman (b. 1918) and Bergman's teacher Alf Sjoberg (1903-1980), founded Intiman Theatre. "Intiman" is an approximation of the Swedish word "intim,' meaning intimate, and pays homage to August Strindberg's Intima Teatern or Intiman Theatre in Stockholm. Booker envisioned a theater company dedicated to producing international dramatic literature on an intimate scale. Theater produced on this scale forges a joint commitment in the theatrical experience between the actors and the audience.

Five years later Journal American reporter Valerie Winslow remembered Intiman's first venue as having been "small, drafty, ill-equipped," adding that Rosmersholm's first performance coincided with "the year's first (and worst) snow storm. The fact that it was in the heart of suburbia and that it was determined to offer some pretty heavy Scandinavian and German plays didn't help any, either ... . Intiman left Kirkland after 1974 because, Booker says, economics demanded it" ("They Started Off...").

Moving and Growing

The infant theater company's audience was composed largely of Seattleites willing to commute for theater. The Intiman's next home was a 200-seat theater at the Cornish School of Allied Arts (now Cornish College of the Arts) on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Despite antiquated and possibly dangerous sound and lighting systems and a performance space nearly as rustic as the Kirkland venue, the Intiman quickly began to draw steady crowds. At 200 seats the house was still small enough to qualify as intimate, but considerably less claustrophobic. More potential seats for sale also raised the Intiman's chances of breaking even.

Intiman moved again in 1975 to the Seattle Repertory Theatre's Second Stage facility in downtown Seattle. In 1987, the company moved a final time to the extensively remodeled Seattle Playhouse at the Seattle Center. In 2006 Intiman was honored with the prestigious Regional Theatre Tony Award.


Sources: "History," Intiman Theatre website accessed June 15, 2006 (http://www.intiman.org/); Valerie Winslow, "They Started Off In A Tiny..." Journal American, June 3, 1977, pp. AM/PM 1, 6; Doug Nine, "Director Margaret Booker Talks About Intiman Theatre," View Northwest, August 1976, pp. 64-65.

Related Topics:   Theater & Dance

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