StageQ’s mission is to celebrate and advance queer representation through theatre written by and about LGBTQ+ persons
StageQ was founded in 2001 by Thomas McClurg in order to provide a stable home for gay and lesbian-themed plays within the broader Madison theater community. A familiar face in the Madison theater community at the time, Tom's stage roles included Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Freddie in Arsenic and Old Lace, Uncle Freddie in Bent, and, most notably, Sterling in Jeffrey. Tom also produced the Madison presentations of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. As StageQ's Artistic Director from its inception through 2005, Tom selected the plays it mounted and served as the point of contact between the shows' producers and the StageQ board. Tom's vision and early leadership helped to establish StageQ's mission and direction.
Tara Ayres took over as StageQ's Artistic Director in 2005. For the next eight years, Tara's activist vision and values powered her efforts to produce high-quality queer theater, while at the same time building community. For Tara, the community building was always as important as the artistic production. In her personal reflection Why Queer Community Theater? (2008), she elaborated: choose projects that will appeal to a variety of people; invite people to join you in a real and meaningful way; provide them with support and training to succeed; treat them well and demand that they treat each other well; [and] make quality and fun equally important. Tara produced, directed, and acted in a long list of StageQ productions over the years of her tenure. She also cultivated artistic, political, and fiscal partnerships with a wide array of like-minded organizations and individuals, thus weaving StageQ into the fabric of the greater Madison community.
Audrey Lauren Wax became StageQ's Artistic Director in July of 2013 and served in the position through September of 2014. Under Audrey's guidance, StageQ broke new artistic ground by mounting its first full-length Shakespeare production--Much Ado About Nothing--and expanded its commitment to transgender works with Tobias Davis's Standards of Care.
Currently, StageQ's artistic and administrative operations are completely overseen by the StageQ Board of Directors and the board's artistic committee. Recent board presidents and artistic committee chairs include J Michael Bruno, Donnovan Moen, and Zak Stowe. Through their efforts and others, StageQ's annual offerings grew in both size and diversity. StageQ produced shows like Christmas with the Crawfords, Boys in the Band, Southern Baptist Sissies, Dog Sees God, A Lady and a Woman as well as original works by local playwrights like Finding Human and RAID! Attack on Stonewall. Under this current leadership model, StageQ has produced some of their largest productions do date including large musicals like Falsettos and Cabaret.
In 2019, StageQ renewed its vision to create a safe space for audiences and artists alike. A new mission was crafted that centered on representation of queer voices. StageQ celebrated a quiet 20th Anniversary during the COVID shutdown of 2020 but continues to look forward to a bright future.
During the 2020 shutdown, StageQ joined with several LGBTQ-focused theatre companies around the United States to form the Queer Theatre Alliance. Together this group embarks to collaborate and share resources to promote queer theatre in cities across the country.