Know Theatre of Cincinnati

How We Got Here

The Tribe

Know Theatre began in 1997 when a “Tribe” of artists led by Jay Kalagayan got together, traveling to bookstores and other venues throughout Cincinnati to perform original, collaborative works.

In 1999, the Know Theatre Tribe took up its first residence in Gabriel’s Corner, a community performance space in an Over-the-Rhine church basement, and produced a full season of plays. 

The Theatre

In 2006, thanks to the generous support of David C. Herriman, Know Theatre moved to a new home, a versatile performance space at 1120 Jackson Street in the historic neighborhood of Over-The-Rhine.

At this time, the theatre merged with the then four year old Cincinnati Fringe Festival, and relaunched the resulting organization as Know Theatre of Cincinnati. This merger created what was, at the time, the only regional theatre that also produced a Fringe Festival.

In the fall of 2008, Know Theatre partnered with Matheatre to launch a national tour of Calculus: The Musical! Over the next 7 years, Calculus served over 50,000 students and teachers across the country.

In 2010, Know Theatre launched the Jackson Street Market, a resource sharing program to foster our local community of individual artists and independent arts organizations. Graduates include OTRimprov and TrueTheatre, which are now independent artistic entities.

In 2013, Know Theatre became an associate member of the National New Play Network, giving us access to a wide network of resources and raising the profile of both the Know and the greater Cincinnati Theatre community.

In the 14-15 season, the Know renewed its commitment to economic accessibility by introducing The Welcome Experiment, a program which now provides $15 advance tickets to Wednesday MainStage performances, and reserves half of capacity for those performances as walk-up tickets available free of charge.

In addition to audience accessibility, the Know strives to pay all artists employed in MainStage productions a living wage for their work.

In 2014, Know launched Serials!, a Monday night theatre party where local playwrights bring work to audiences before the ink is dry.

In 2015, the Know kicked off a commitment to gender parity in the playwrights it produces, as well in the composition of its artistic teams.

And in 2020, Know Theatre’s team navigated a global pandemic crisis and produced a full season of at-a-distance programming that raised up local artists’ voices, provided needed income to artists, provided inspiration to our patrons around the region and nation, and kept our operations running so we could come back stronger than ever in 2021.

Know Theatre is now among the region’s most dynamic small arts organizations, producing an award winning MainStage Season, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, a SecondStage season of works focused on local artists, and Play(under)ground, unique post show programming designed to strengthen the relationships between artists and audiences.

The Community

With over 20 years as part of the neighborhood, Know Theatre seeks to be a full citizen of Over-the-Rhine.

Through partnerships with other not-for-profits such as GLSEN, Neighborhood Merchants’ Associations, ArtsWave, RedBike, and the Art Academy, Know Theatre aims to be a good neighbor and advocate for our community.

As our neighborhood evolves, we strive to create programming that is more than entertainment, to build a community with deep roots in Cincinnati, that can bridge the gap between long time residents and newcomers to Over-the-Rhine.

To sum up

We think we’ve done some really cool stuff over the last 25 years, and we hope to make even more cool theatre in the next 25.

We hope you’ll join us.