celebrating 25 years!

Z Space, based in the Mission District of San Francisco, is one of the nation’s leading laboratories for the development of new works. Led by Executive Artistic Director Lisa Steindler since 2007 and founded by David Dower in 1993, Z Space celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, continuing its mission to empower artistic risk, collaboration, and camaraderie amongst artists and audience in the service of commissioning, developing, and producing new work.

Keystone initiatives include New Work, a development, production, and presentation 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; Youth Arts, an arts education program promoting literacy and creativity; and the subsidized rental program which opens our venues for use by a variety of other art groups.

Operating two venues, an 85-seat black box and a 244-seat main stage, Z Space fills an essential role in the Bay Area’s arts ecology and continues to raise its profile and partnerships both regionally and nationally. Eschewing traditional theatre models with fixed seasons and subscription packages, Z Space chooses to remain flexible, to focus on artists’ needs, and to facilitate the time and resources necessary to develop each project fully.


"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

  • 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