Space 55: 2013 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Art

You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our Big Brain 2013 Finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award awards announcement and celebration on April 27, Chow Bella and Jackalope Ranch will introduce the finalists.

Up today: Space 55

Photos by Jamie Peachey

"We're like a home for wayward artists," says Shawna Franks, cofounder of Space 55 Theatre, the tiny, off-beat playhouse that's lately been taking downtown Phoenix by storm.

The nonprofit all-volunteer company operates less like a conventional theater than a theater cooperative, offering late-night and series productions created and produced by a revolving cast of actors, writers, and directors.

See also:
- Announcing the 2013 Big Brain Finalists
- Meet New Times' 2013 Big Brain Finalists and Celebrate the Winners at Artopia on April 27

Opening a theater, Franks says, was not part of her plan when she moved here from Chicago in 2005. "I didn't know anyone in town," she recalls, "but I'm a theater person, so I started to invite actors to my house for dinner. Actors are usually hungry, so I figured if I promised to feed them, they'd come. We read plays together, and we ended up liking one another, and it became a theater company."

The company, officially founded in 2006, took its time finding its proper audience. "When we first opened, people would walk in and say, 'Oh, take me back to Scottsdale!' But eventually, the people who love a writers' theater, and who really want to see original and contemporary work, were showing up and saying, 'Oh, this is just the thing I've been looking for!'"

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