There’s a new place to catch live comedies and dramas in Mesa, and it’s backed by the city’s oldest community theatre company.

Mesa Encore Theatre’s Black Box on Brown opened this month at Brown Road and Mesa Drive with AriZoni Award-winner Matthew T. Crosby’s “After All These Years ... I Still Hate You.” The next show, “The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged),” opens Oct. 18.

The space will specialize in producing new works by local playwrights and other carefully chosen plays that aren’t often seen in the Valley, says producing director Brett Aiken.

Another of its goals is to make a night out affordable. Tickets for all shows will cost $12.

“Our ‘black box’ is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a 50 (foot)-by-50-foot room that has tiered seating for 80, the stage — everything — encompassed within it. The farthest seat is 20 feet from the stage at the most,” says Aiken, who also works as MET’s technical director.

The 76-year-old company, which produces six or seven shows per season as a resident company at Mesa Arts Center will continue to perform at that venue.

The Black Box on Brown, housed in a building that was once home to a Wherehouse music store, will allow MET to mount even more productions.

“We have so many talented people in the Valley who have written shows, and there’s not really a good way for them to get their shows seen, other than maybe a table read at someone’s house or a staged reading at a coffee shop. We can be that venue that says yes and brings (new work) to a wider audience,” says Aiken.

On the Black Box season calendar are “A Tuna Christmas,” “The Lady With All the Answers,” “Wait Until Dark,” and a puppet-filled spoof of the 1980s movie “Top Gun” that’s geared toward adults.

The venue will also be home to this year’s Pandora Festival, an annual showcase of new plays put on by Arizona Women’s Theatre Company that’s long been housed at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Ticket stubs from the Black Box may be shown at the Native New Yorker restaurant next door for a discount on food and drink.

For information, call (800) 838-3006 or visit

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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