In the summer of 1988, Betsy Comstock and Eleanor Koblenz, both well known in the Capital Region area theater community, conceived the idea of a local group enlisting fine actors and directors to perform staged readings. The concept was based on a project in New York City called “The Source,” run by Bea Waller, a professional performer and producer, and one of Betsy’s many friends in the theater. Betsy and Eleanor called together a small group of people interested in various aspects of theater, and Theater Voices was born.
Theater Voices’ first production, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, opened March 30, 1989 at the Albany City Arts Building. Directed by Jarka M. Burian, Chairman Emeritus of the University at Albany’s Theater Department, the production set the standard for all future Theater Voices staged readings. Since that time, the theater has presented four shows each season, as well as taking part in special theater projects, live radio broadcasts, educational outreach, premieres of new scripts and First Night performances.
Betsy Comstock died February 21, 1989, a month before Theater Voices’ first performance. Eleanor Koblenz became Theater Voices’ first president and served as the organization’s Artistic Director until her death on January 29, 2004. Theater Voices’ continued success is a tribute to the pioneering spirit of both its founders. In the years since its inception, Theater Voices has presented over 100 plays, welcoming the talents of some of the areas best actors and directors.