celebrating 25 years!

Z Space empowers artistic risk, collaboration, and camaraderie amongst artists, audience, and staff in the service of creating, developing, and presenting new work. Operating out of an old can factory in the Mission District of San Francisco, Z Space now activates two performance spaces, an 85-seat black box and a 244-seat main stage, with a warehouse aesthetic and an adventurous edge.

Eschewing traditional theater models with fixed seasons and a singular artistic vision, Z Space thrives to embrace a multitude of artistic voices through a variety of programs and partnerships. We meet the needs of our communities by providing co-productions and subsidized space, hosting open "salons" to have conversations about the issues facing the broader community, and ensuring that all of our venues and facilities are welcoming and accessible. Some of our regular partners have been: Word for Word (the resident theater company of Z Space since our founding in 1993), piece by piece productions, Youth Speaks, Sean Dorsey Dance, Fresh Meat Festival, 3 Girls Theatre, AXIS Dance, Chitresh Das, and Misfits Cabaret.

Annually, we reach approximately 22,000 audience members, 700 youth and children through Youth Arts (the vast majority are low-income, English Language Learners), and approximately 50 small and mid-size arts organizations.

In addition to being home to local and international artists and organizations, Z Space develops and produces its own new work. Over the past few years, Z Space has built a national reputation for developing and producing large-scale new works that reimagine the traditional “musical theater” form, receiving critical acclaim for Hundred Days (The Bengsons), The Lucky Ones (The Bengsons), and Weightless (The Kilbanes).


"I am proud to congratulate Z Space on their 20 years of work as a pillar in the vibrant arts community that makes San Francisco such a special place. Z Space's combination of programming and support for artists and youth is a great example of the unique artistic community that puts San Francisco at the forefront of creativity and innovation."
—San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee


In 1993, visionary David Dower founded The Z Space Studio (the name would later be shortened to Z Space) to support a large and evolving community of theatre artists working together in the Bay Area. Z Space has become one of the nation’s leading laboratories for developing new voices, new works, and new opportunities in American theater. Throughout the 90s and early 00s, Z Space was privileged to work with such luminaries as Josh Kornbluth, Anne Galjour, Randall Wong, and Brian Thorstensen.

Lisa Steindler joined Z Space in 2005 as New Works Director and assumed the title of Executive Artistic Director in 2007. Her vision and efforts are to establish “a hub for artists of all stripes to rehearse, perform, and exhibit their work while engaging our audiences with the best of Bay Area and national artistry.”

In 2009, Z Space leased a theater space for the first time and moved into the former Theatre Artaud (read more about Project Artaud and the history of our building). Since then Z Space has become a unique hybrid organization that focuses equally on producing, presenting, and developing new work. In 2013, we expanded into Z Below (formerly The Traveling Jewish Theater), an 85-seat complement to the 244-seat warehouse above. 

In 2013, Z Space received a generous three-year grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to sponsor a resident playwright, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. That grant was renewed in 2016, giving Peter a stable artistic home for (at least!) another three years! Since Peter’s residency began, Z Space has produced three of his plays, The Totalitarians in 2014, A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry in 2016, and The Making of a Great Moment in 2017. 

Z Space is proud to nurture collaborative artistic and producing partnerships with Ars Nova, piece by piece productions, The Curran, City Arts & Lectures, and American Conservatory Theater, among others. Z Space presented Bay Area premieres of internationally acclaimed performance ensembles The Wooster Group (2015), Elevator Repair Service (2014), Rude Mechs (2015), and Theatre Mitu (2015).

Awards & Accolades

  • 2018: Best Performance Space (Best of the Bay, 48 Hills)

  • 2017: Best Performance Space (Best of the Bay, 48 Hills)

  • 2017: Literary Remix: Word for Word (SF Magazine)

  • 2016: Best of The Bay: Performance Space (48 Hills)

  • 2015: Best Performance Art Space (SF Magazine)

  • 2015: Wooster Group named “Wildest Theatrical Moment” of the Year (KQED)

  • 2014: Best Performance Space & Best Dramatic Bar (The Bay Guardian)

  • 2014: Hundred Days wins TBA Award for Outstanding World Premier Musical

  • 2013: Bay Area Critics Circle award for Best Entire Production for Word for Word’s In Friendship

  • 2005: Glickman Award for The People's Temple