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Published July 30 2012

Theatre B marks 10 years bringing alternative theater to Fargo

FARGO – In the last decade, Theatre B has come a long way.

The intimate venue on Main Avenue is celebrating just how far with a special 10th anniversary fundraiser gala tonight at the Radisson in Fargo that will act both as a preview of the upcoming season but also a reflection on the last 10 years.

“We wanted to have a celebration that looks back, but also looks forward,” says Carrie Wintersteen, the theater’s executive director.

The concept of Theatre B started more than a decade ago when Wintersteen, along with her husband, David Wintersteen, and friends Scott and Lori Horvik and Amber Rae Krenzel, realized there was a market in Fargo-Moorhead for more professional, alternative theater.

“That was part of the impetus of starting the theater, that sense of, what’s the work that the community theater isn’t going to produce?” Wintersteen says.

The troupe’s first home was in the halls of the old Moose Lodge in Fargo, where the group staged three shows during its first season.

At the end of that year, though, the building was condemned, and Wintersteen and the rest were out on the street.

Undeterred, they started planning for their second season, even though they didn’t know where their home might be.

As it turns out, that season opened in the Fargo Fire Department’s fire hall, of all places, with a play about a firefighter dealing with the emotional aftermath of 9/11.

Following that performance, the troupe tried out the American Legion hall, but moved on when it turned out not to be a good fit.

Before finally getting a permanent home in its current building on Main Avenue, the group first tried out the adjacent empty bank building, renting it month by month because that’s all they were able to afford.

Now finally in a more stable environment, Theatre B seats 67 people and puts on four shows per season.

It’s the intimacy of the theater, Wintersteen says, that has become one of the main appeal for fans.

Even so, there’s always the possibility that a (slightly) larger venue could be in the Theatre B’s future.

“As we look ahead, we do want to be in a bigger space,” Wintersteen says, adding that a capacity of 150-200 would be ideal.

But regardless of where it’s housed, whether in a fire hall, a condemned Moose Lodge or an empty bank building, Wintersteen says Theatre B’s mission remains the same – to present the kinds of plays audiences might not see elsewhere in town and to provide opportunities for the professional talent in the area.

And that’s something with which the community has connected.

“What we found over the years is that our audiences have simply come to trust our aesthetic and trust our judgment about what might be timely or interesting,” Wintersteen says.

Theatre B will open its 10th season with “Good People,” by David Lindsay-Abaire, on Sept. 20.

If you go

What: Theatre B’s 10th anniversary gala

When: 7-11 p.m. tonight

Where: The Radisson, 201 5th St. N., Fargo

Info: Tickets cost $50, and proceeds benefit Theatre B’s programs. For tickets or more information visit www.theatreb.org or call (701) 729-8880.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535