The BLUEBARN Theatre’s history began in the late 1980’s with graduates from the Professional Theatre Training Conservatory at the State University of New York at Purchase. Seeking to continue the deeply shared artistic aesthetic and practice that they had developed over their four years of conservatory training, and also to create theatre outside the constraints of New York City’s commercial market, they joined forces with the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and produced their first play: America in Pieces, three one-acts by David Mamet, Spalding Grey, and Sam Shepard. The first production was produced with $75 and two white sheets and performed in the middle of a bitter cold February. The response to the work was overwhelming, and the BLUEBARN was born. In the Fall of 1990, after working for two seasons at the Bemis Foundation, the BLUEBARN renovated an empty storefront building on 13th street in downtown Omaha, creating a small black box performance space that was to be the BLUEBARN home for the next six years.
By 1991, the BLUEBARN was growing fast, adding new core members from a variety of backgrounds, all sharing a commitment to the BLUEBARN’s original vision. That year, the BLUEBARN established a tradition of producing original scripts. The first, called Untitled, was an improvisational piece using large, leather body masks, music, and dance. Since that time we have produced many new works for the stage including The Empty Plough, What the Mirror Gave Me: An Original Play About Frida Kahlo, Murder In the Heartland, 5000 Nights. Reform School Timmy!, Go-Go Boys from Planet X!, Minstrel Show: The Lynching of William Brown, Chelsea/Cruelties, Little Nelly’s Naughty Noel and Toxic Avenger: The Musical!
In June of 1997, the BLUEBARN lost its home on 13th Street and was forced to go “on location” to survive. A potentially disasterous situation was averted and the BLUEBARN produced a season of unique and powerful productions in the abandoned Burlington Train Station, a former department store and the Douglas County Courthouse rotunda, and current home of Channel 7’s Burlington Station.
In 1998, the tenth anniversary season, the BLUEBARN moved into its new home, a 86-seat proscenium arch theatre in Omaha’s Old Market. The BLUEBARN also opened the Abbott/Pinkoff Art Gallery, providing local visual artists a place to display their work.
The BLUEBARN’s national reputation is also increasing. In the past, the theatre has taken two plays out of the state. In 2003, the theatre was honored to participate in the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington D.C. by performing its award winning play A Piece of my Heart about women in the Vietnam War. In 2004, the BLUEBARN traveled to New York to participate in the New York City International Fringe Theatre Festival with its original play 5000 Nights. In 2002 and 2003, the BLUEBARN created a unique fundraising event, “On the Set with…” which featured upclose interviews and film clips with Oscar winning writer/director Alexander Payne and Emmy winning Actress Edie Falco (The Sopranos).
In 2012, the BLUEBARN announced that the future home of the theatre at 10th & Pacific was being designed, and launched a capital campaign to raise significant funds in the community to build their dream theater.
BLUEBARN broke ground in Summer 2014 and built a beautiful theater (with the help of many local artisans), and moved into their new home in the Fall of 2015.
Today, the BLUEBARN Theatre has long established itself as Omaha’s premier professional theatre. After producing over 100 plays thoughout it’s history since 1989, the BLUEBARN’s reputation for high-quality entertainment and pursuit of stories that challenge both the theatre artists and patrons is solid. The BLUEBARN’s primary goals are to bring in more professional actors and designers from around the country and to increase awareness of the BLUEBARN in Omaha and surrounding communities.