The Story of Fargo’s own Start-Up Professional Theatre

In 1998, Carrie Winterstein arrived in Fargo alongside her husband David who was a newly hired Professor of Theatre at Concordia College. With her acting experience and Masters Degree in Acting from the University of Pittsburgh, it wasn’t long after their arrival that Carrie wondered where she could participate in theater locally. The Fargo metro area is known for offering family and children events, but Carrie remembers asking, “What do the adults do for hobbies and entertainment?”

After a few years of teaching in various roles at North Dakota State University, Trollwood Performing Arts School and other local venues in the area, Carrie pondered the possibility of a local professional theater. Friends Lori and Scott Horvik joined Carrie in the dream of opening such a theater that could solve the problem of needing to drive to Minneapolis or St. Paul to see cutting edge theater productions.
Professional Theatre

It was in 2003 when life circumstances and momentum collided resulting in the launch of Theatre B. Since opening, Carrie shared that the “mission of Theatre B has been to perform hard shows on purpose with difficult subject matter….and to bring those shows to the audience to help them flex their empathy muscle.”

Like many start-up companies and non-profits, Theatre B experiences the hardships of finances, time and pursuit of a passionate vision. The journey for Theatre B began as an itinerant theater company collaborating with local businesses and the city of Fargo for performances. For example, the first show of 2004 featured The Guys by Anne Nelson, a play with eulogies of firemen, which was performed at the Fargo Fire Department on the 3rd anniversary of September 11th. Later in that year, because of the help of Dave and Pia Scheer and the Renaissance Zoning Plan of Fargo, Theatre B found a more permanent home on Main Avenue. At this consistent location, Carrie shared that Theatre B moved from “volunteers to staff and from a start-up theater to established downtown theater.” Recently, Theatre B has found a temporary performance venue in the Broadway Theatre Garage and will perform “Hand to God” by Robert Askins beginning in March 2017.

Professional Theatre

Photo of the Production: Death of Ceasar

As the executive Director of Theatre B, Carrie is an advocate for the future growth of her theater company and the arts in the Fargo-Moorhead area. In 2016, The Arts Partnership with the assistance of Americans for the Arts completed a recent study on the economic impact of the Arts in the greater Fargo Area. The firsts estimates reveal that for every $1 invested in the arts there is a return of $54 spent in the Fargo area. Carrie believes these estimated statistics provides evidence that Theatre B is a “great investment in Fargo.”

Learn more from Carrie Winterstein and Theatre B as she speaks at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017at 9:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.

Brent McNeal