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The Lightbulb Project

Finding the Spark for Every Heart

Seeing live theater can be expensive... because producing live theater is expensive!  To be one of 400 or 500 people to see a show that cost $40,000 or $50,000 to produce... $40 or $50 per ticket is a bargain!  But for a lot of people, that's why theater has become an "elitist" form of entertainment: only those with the means to pay can enjoy it.  


We want to create a culture for our patrons that is based on a different sort of economy: an economy of inclusion, grace, and generosity.  We adhere to a model in which, instead of the few paying a high price for art, the many are paying according to what they value and as they are able. We believe that there are many people in Western New York who have never felt welcomed into the experience of theater, but who would love it if they were. And if anyone cares enough about what we're doing to give beyond their ticket price, we want them to become part of a family: a community that's connected, invested, and welcoming.

A stage manager watching the stage.jpg


The Lightbulb Project is about the pursuit of something three-fold:

1) A profound theatrical experience

  • performances that are alive, present, surprising, connected, fresh at every performance

  • actors that are intimately connected to each other on the stage, responding moment-to-moment to each other and the world they share

  • production elements artistically crafted, with a minimalist's eye and a professional's commitment to excellence, focusing the audience on the performers

  • performers that are uniquely connected to their audience, telling stories from the heart

2) An artist-centered process

  • a process of rehearsal and development that is intentionally organic, collaborative, focused on listening, honesty, purpose, and discovery

  • designers, performers, and staff that are absolutely safe, nurtured, compensated, and inspired

3) A profoundly inclusive and engaged audience/patron community

  • theater from which no one is excluded because of ticket price

  • an audience base that is invested, generous, and connected

  • an audience that is ever-expanding, not just in size but in demographics, until it looks absolutely like Western New York in all of its glorious diversity​

Why The Lightbulb?

The inspiration comes from Thomas Edison's 10,000 "failed" attempts to find a filament that would burn just right -- a light that was sustainable, faithful, and available to everyone.  When asked about it, he said, "I have not failed, not once.  I’ve successfully discovered 10,000 ways that will not work."  Our hope is that we will not have to endure 10,000 ways that don't work . . . but the lightbulb has always symbolized the worth of experimentation, of patience and perseverance, of the willingness to risk failure time and again for the sake of finding something truly valuable.


The image of the lightbulb speaks to several things that are important to us as a company:

  • the intentionally bare-bones nature of our early productions

  • the distilled light of inspiration that we're looking for: the spark of life at the heart of each play

  • the connection of that spark to the hearts of the artists, and to the hearts of the audience


Like Thomas Edison, we are searching for a way to turn a power source (for us, a written play) into a light that is unsullied, sustainable, and available to all -- a light that chases shadows, helps us see our own world and our own selves more clearly and more generously, makes hiding more difficult but living more possible. We search for a way to share that light effectively with everyone in the room . . . and to make sure that everyone's in the room.

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