Operating two venues in San Francisco’s historic Mission District, a mainstage and a black box theater, Z Space hosts new works from a variety of performance disciplines year-round. Keystone initiatives include New Work, a development program that supports artists and ensembles from conception to realization of unique works, Word for Word, a resident theatre company that transforms works of literature verbatim to the stage, and Youth Arts, an arts education program promoting literacy and engaging students’ creativity.

We foster opportunities around the nation for these works and we engage diverse audiences through direct interactions with the process, the projects, and the artists.

"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.

Z Space welcomed Executive Director Lori Laqua in 2012. In 2013, we took over Z Below (formerly The Traveling Jewish Theater), an 86-seat complement to the 230-seat warehouse above. Since then, Z Space’s programming and budget have doubled.

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 two of his plays, The Totalitarians in 2014, and the sold-out and extended A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry in 2016. His next play will be produced here in the summer of 2017.

Eschewing traditional theater models with fixed seasons and subscription packages, Z Space continues its long-standing choice to remain flexible, to focus on artists’ needs and to facilitate the time and resources necessary to develop each project fully. 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

  • 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