Spare Stage was created in the Fall of 2007 by actor Aaron Murphy and Stephen Drewes, a local director and professor of Theatre at CCSF, in order to produce works by established playwrights in simplified stagings. This approach would allow them to concentrate on script, direction, and performance, rather than on production values, and to reduce the expense of production and, consequently, the cost to the audience. (Their informal motto, tongue in cheek, was “Spare Stage: We Build No Walls!”). The company’s debut, in February 2008, was a double bill of two British one-acts, ASHES TO ASHES by Harold Pinter, and AFTERPLAY by Brian Friel, featuring Murphy and Mary Samson, and directed by Drewes. Encouraged by its success, Spare Stage mounted a production of Steven Dietz’s existential comedy/mystery PRIVATE EYES the following summer.
In the ensuing years, Spare Stage presented the US premiere of HERE by Michael Frayn (NOISES OFF, COPENHAGEN), the San Francisco premieres of Yazmina Reza’s THE UNEXPECTED MAN, Lee Blessing’s A BODY OF WATER, and the West Coast premiere of THE BREATH OF LIFE, by David Hare. The Spare Stage production of David Mamet’s OLEANNA in the Spring of 2013 was described as “beautifully calibrated, consistently stimulating” (Avila: SFBG) and featured Frannie Morrison and founder Aaron Murphy. Spare Stage’s offering of a selection of pieces from Allen Bennet’s TALKING HEADS, which played in March, 2016, was called “starkly witty” and “funny and mesmerizing” (Talkin’ Broadway).
Drewes retired as the company’s Artistic Director in 2016, and was succeeded by Laylah Muran de Assereto, who continues the vision for complex ideas in simplified settings, adding new-works development to the repertoire of lesser-known-works by established playwrights.