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All the World’s a Stage
B Street’s new artistic director is up for the challenge
By Jessica R. Laskey
Lyndsay Burch has her hands full and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
At just 30 years old, the North Carolina native became only the second—and first female—artistic director of beloved professional theater company B Street Theatre, taking the helm from Buck Busfield, who had been involved in the company since its creation by his brother Timothy in 1986.
Directing has been Burch’s passion since childhood. She directed her first production at age 13 at the behest of a middle-school drama teacher who recognized her eye for “all the aspects of production, not just performance.”
After graduating from Elon University, Burch was accepted into B Street’s directing internship. Upon completing the eight-month program, Burch was in no hurry to leave and the company was eager to keep her, so she was offered a position as an artistic associate. She also worked as a counselor at the B Street summer camp, in the box office and she even tended bar. “I’ve done almost every position at the theater,” she says proudly.
Over the past 10 years, she’s worked her way up from artistic associate to artistic producer to associate artistic director and, finally, artistic director in 2021. During that time, she’s directed more than 20 productions across the Mainstage and Family Series, written for multiple touring shows and produced hundreds of professional productions.
She also oversaw the company’s move in 2018 from its original home at 27th and B streets to the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for Performing Arts, a new state-of-the-art theater complex built just for B Street at 2700 Capitol Ave.
“I did everything from furniture to production to cubicle layout and worked closely with the general contractors,” Burch says. “It was a crash course on managing a gargantuan project, but I think it showed them my ability to see something from start to finish larger than just a production.”
Burch also saw the company through another period of upheaval: the pandemic. The theater shuttered in March 2020 and pivoted to entirely virtual programming for the next 18 months. Burch and executive producer Jerry Montoya spearheaded more than 270 virtual events—Burch hosted every single one—and reached more than 2,000 households a week until their reopening in September 2021.
When another potentially disruptive moment in the company’s history came—the announcement of Busfield’s retirement—Burch was up for the challenge. The board evidently agreed, as after a brief national search and a few internal interviews, they named Burch as Busfield’s successor.
“Of course, when a founder retires from an organization, there is a sense of anxiety,” says Burch of her predecessor’s more than 30-year tenure as the head of a company that produces dozens of professional Mainstage, Family Series and School Tour productions and hosts hundreds of concerts, comedy shows, workshops, residencies and classes each year.
“It’s been a period of transition—of betwixt and between—but as I reach the end of my first fiscal year, I’m sensing more stability,” Burch says. “I’ve realized the importance of patience. It’s not like flipping a switch. All of this is an opportunity to revisit how and why we do things and how to do them better.”
In her first season as artistic director, Burch is happy to report that four out of the seven Mainstage productions are by female playwrights. She’s hoping to present more shows that speak to the female experience as well as more universal stories, especially in the wake of the pandemic and society’s “racial awakening.”
“It’s not about ‘now all of us and none of you,’” Burch says about selecting more stories about women, BIPOC and queer people. “It’s about ‘how can we now be a part of it in a way we haven’t historically been?’ You’re still a part of it, too. It takes all of us.”
Photos by Wes Davis Photography. Bstreettheatre.org 2700 Capitol Ave, Sacramento @Bstreettheatre & @Thesofiasac