The B Street Theatre (incorporated as Theatre for Children) was founded in the summer of 1986 by Timothy Busfield to create a touring theatre for children, performing new works and classic children's literature. Tim was soon joined by his brother, Buck Busfield, a noted playwright and director who had worked at the renowned Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, one of the country's leading producers of theatre oriented toward children.
The Company produces both adult and family plays year-round, as well as a full-time school tour and multiple arts education programs for children and adults.
B Street Theatre School Tour serves children throughout the Central and Northern California region to the Oregon border. The School Tour has served nearly three million school children and youth since its inception, with annual attendance upwards of 200,000 students. The School Tour takes the rich experience of theatre into underserved communities throughout the state and makes live theatre, unique writing, and new forms of learning accessible to students. In Sacramento and San Joaquin counties alone, B Street School Tour has played to more than 130 Title I schools within the last couple of years.
In addition to a professional touring theatre, B Street School Tour holds an annual playwriting festival and contest. The festival was created to provide a forum for the dramatic voice of youth and to conduct playwriting workshops that assist children in developing literary skills, problem-solving techniques, and a mode of artistic expression. This process stimulates the intellect and enhances self-esteem by providing validation of creative ideas and work efforts.
In 2002, the B Street Theatre expanded its programming with performances of new works for young audiences and classic children's literature in a fixed theatre setting. The Family Series serves children and families throughout the school year with performances for school field trips during the week and for the general public on weekends. Curriculum materials are developed for each Family Series production, and teachers are encouraged to develop classroom lessons based on themes from each play. Pre-performance classroom work and talkbacks with the cast after each performance enhance the learning experience by connecting stories, play production techniques and the mechanics of a working theatre to students' school curriculum. The Family Series is California's only full-time, professional, resident theater for children.
In addition to B Street's renowned children's programming the Company offers a full season of new and established work for adults through its Mainstage production season. B Street Theatre has been named "Best Live Theatre" in Sacramento Magazine's annual "Best of Sacramento" issue for over a dozen years, and readers of Sacramento News & Review have ranked B Street Theatre as #1 in "Best Professional Theater Company" for several years running.
Play selection runs from new, cutting-edge dramas and comedies (B Street regularly hosts world, national, regional, and local premieres) to classic plays that speak to today's audiences.
Since January 2018, B Street proudly makes its home at the new, state-of-the-art Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts. The opening at The Sofia brought a dynamic new arts venue to the heart of California's capitol. Since this new re-opening, B Street has also opened a new space called Upstairs at the B, which features new play reading brunches, improv and sketch performances, a first annual New Comedies Festival of Plays, and B Street's own podcast, Poison Boot. Upstairs at the B is also used for professional development training for teachers, giving them the tools they need to take arts education into their own classrooms.
B Street also offers a robust theatrical education program through its Studio For Young Actors (including a popular summer theatre camp for youth) and its Adult Conservatory. These programs offer a variety of classes in theatrical disciplines including acting, playwriting, improv, sketch comedy, character development and more.
Sutter Health is a much-valued partner, and B Street is active in the Sutter Child Life Program. The Company offers playwriting tutorials and support workshops to children undergoing health crises, as well as their families. These programs have been crucial to helping patients, their siblings and their parents maintain a positive, productive outlook during the harshest of life's challenges.
B Street's combined programming makes The Sofia the newest and most dynamic arts center in the Greater Sacramento area, offering a broad range of educational and entertainment programming for adults and children, and giving smaller, non-profit arts organizations in the area the opportunity to perform in a state-of-the-art theatre setting.