The Forge Theater Lab began in December 2018 with Generations. This night of ten short plays, showcased the wealth of talent that has been associated with the Fitchburg State University theater program over the past 20+ years. Season 1 continued in 2019 with a series of staged readings of new plays in progress by Ashley Lauren Rogers, Samantha deManbey, Mary Darling, and Andy Bayiates and Genevra Gallo-Bayiates.
Season 2 under the leadership of artistic director Samantha deManbey began with The Forge's first production of a full-length play, On Our Terms by Mary Darling. Next, the development process of Chasing the Ghost by Ashley Lauren Rogers culminated with a fully staged production. Season 2 wrapped up with a workshop of two plays by Matt Cogswell and an online reading of LifeBlood by Erik Nikander.
During Season 3 we kept active during the pandemic by holding online events, including a reading of Perfect Fifths by Bret Bucci, various development rehearsals, and Past Tense: Six Short Plays, a showcase of recorded pieces by Steven Beck, Matt Cogswell, Cayenne Douglass, Ken Green, and Ashley Lauren Rogers.
Charlene Kennedy joined The Forge as managing director for Season 4, in which we returned to in-person theater with two nights of readings of short plays, Pride Pieces and No Place To Go. We were also proud to participate in the inaugural ceremony of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park by collaborating with two local schools to present scenes by young actors as part of a Juneteenth Celebration.
Partnering with Fitchburg State University
The Forge Theater Lab is proud to be in residence at Fitchburg State University, a center for education and culture in north central Massachusetts. FSU offers a range of a degree programs, including concentrations in theater, technical theater, and other fields that lead to careers in performance and the arts. Now housed within the Communications Media department, the FSU theater program has been offering award-winning productions of classical, contemporary, and new plays for decades. Click here to read more about FSU's theater program.
Fitchburg State University is currently renovating the Theater Block, a building with a rich history in downtown Fitchburg that will now become a vital part of both the university and the continuing revitalization of the city. Click here to read more about the Theater Block project.
The Start-up Group
The Forge Theater Lab was founded by a "start-up group" of Fitchburg State University alumni, convened by an open invitation from Professor Kelly Morgan in April 2018. This group decided on the initial mission and core values for the company, wrote its bylaws, and selected the plays to be performed in the kickoff event Generations.
Lindsay Flathers Friend
Kelly Morgan, Founder
During its first four seasons, The Forge Theater Lab was overseen by a board of trustees. Board members over this span of time included Andy Bayiates, Steven Beck, Matt Cogswell, Jack Crory, Noah Dawson, Danette Day, Samantha deManbey, Amy Demar-DuBois, Lindsay Flathers Friend, Pamela Kathleen Hill, Joanna Karamanou, Nate Malone, Brittany Messuri Rechenberger, Erik Nikander, Erica Gilbert, Angela Renzi, and Kelly Stowell.