Culture Spotlight: Cygnet Theatre

Posted on January 10, 2016

Established in 2003, Cygnet Theatre now ranks as the fifth largest theatre company in San Diego County. Initially holding performances in a strip mall near La Mesa, the company has produced over 60 plays in the last 12 years, and continues to bring live performances of both contemporary and classic plays to San Diego while offering a range of community and student-based programs.

Cygnet took its name as an homage to London’s Swan Theater (a cygnet is a young swan), which was a rival to London’s Globe Theatre in 1595. A fitting name to rival San Diego’s Old Globe, Cygnet soon grew a loyal following. In 2008, due to overwhelming community response, Cygnet moved its productions from the 165-seat house near SDSU to the 246-seat Old Town Theatre in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This move allowed Cygnet to reach over 40,000 people annually, both through performances and community events.

To give back to the community that has helped it grow, Cygnet Theatre offers a wealth of programs for students and adults under its Cygneture Series, such as Wine Nights, which combine tastings from local wineries with live performances. Storytelling on the Green offers families abridged versions of classic plays for free outdoors on the green in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Friday Forums, which gives guests an opportunity to chat with casts and directors, follow the performance on the first Friday after opening night. And the annual Playwrights in Process Festival introduces new works by local artists and also offers a series of workshops designed to introduce audiences to the art of playwriting.

Cygnet Theatre

Marinda Peugh

Currently, under the leadership of Artistic Director Sean Murray and Executive Director Bill Schmidt, Cygnet has won more than 100 local awards for artistic excellence, including Theatre of the Year, Producer of the Year and numerous Best Production awards. Cygnet has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and The James Irvine Foundation, among many others.

The current season is in full swing and offers many opportunities to experience why Cygnet has become an arts leader in San Diego. Upcoming productions include When the Rain Stops Falling, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, Dogfight, and Hay Fever, to name a few.

Cygnet’s annual fundraising gala, Soiree by the Bay, will be held on Sunday, April 17, at Coasterra. The night will feature a Latin fusion menu designed by Chef Debra Scott, live entertainment, auctions, and much more. Funds raised will go to benefit the theatre’s future productions as well as its outreach programs. 619.337.1525, www.cygnettheatre.com     Ryan Thomas