Nathaniel Shaw to Lead The New Theatre at Firehouse into a Passionate 30th Season


There have been a lot of changes at The Firehouse Theatre this year. Firehouse is a staple of the Richmond theatre scene, putting on new plays and promoting the arts by providing a platform for young and burgeoning artists in the scene to either showcase their work or perform on stage. Now, with the merger with The New Theatre, citing “considerable mission overlap, cultural alignment, and complementary visions and ambitions,” this newly combined powerhouse of an organization is poised to take the city by storm as The New Theatre at Firehouse enters its 30th season.

First and foremost, the city had to endure the loss of Carol Piersol, founder of The Firehouse Theatre and a longtime patron of the arts. In honor of her memory, the organization has decided to rename their stage The Carol Piersol Stage. In the wake of this, at the end of the 29th season, longtime Producing Artistic Director Joel Bassin passed the torch to Nathaniel Shaw. Under Bastion’s eight years of leadership the organization has seen a renaissance in the scope and spectrum of productions put on, while also retaining the theatre’s mission of bringing new and fringe productions to the Richmond theatre scene.

Shaw has had a career spanning many levels of theatre across numerous communities, having gone from serving as the associate choreographer for the Broadway production of Once, as well as work on the US tour, to becoming the artistic director of Virginia Repertory Theatre from 2016 to 2020. Now, he is leading The New Theatre at Firehouse into what is sure to be an exciting and passionate 30th season.

Shaw created The New Theatre in 2021 with Vida Williams as an innovative type of theatre dedicated to the production of new plays and musicals that tell inclusive stories. The merger with The Firehouse Theatre seems only natural in retrospect, and with the combined efforts and resources of the two organizations coming together as one, this new season is shaping up to be the most exciting to date.

Taking place on their MainStage in the upcoming four-show season are a host of eclectic works:

Berta, Berta

by Angelica Chéri
September 27th – October 15th, 2023
Presented in collaboration with The Conciliation Project
Directed by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
Starring Katrinah Carol Lewis & Jerold E. Solomon

“After committing an unforgivable crime, Leroy is granted one final wish: a chance to make amends with his long-lost lover Berta. Their reunion swells from a quarrelsome conjuring of the past to an impassioned plot to escape their impending fate. The play is a fictional origin story of the prison chain gang song “Berta, Berta” which originated on the Parchman Farm, Mississippi State Penitentiary.”

Memories of Overdevelopment

by Caridad Svich
February 7th – February 25th, 2024
Directed by Nathaniel Shaw

“Some plays are a quiet revolution about loud things. Some plays are about the stories we carry in our bones. Inspired by true stories, Memories of Overdevelopment is a documentary sharing what people remember about dictatorships where they grew up, how they survived, and why they left.”

Roman à clef

by Chandler Hubbard
May 8th – May 26th, 2024

Directed by Sharon Ott
Dramaturgy by Naysan Mojgani

“In a quiet, seemingly empty theatre, six actors rehearse a new play about family, fear, and flight. Led by Jack, their visionary director, the cast finds themselves stepping beyond the boundaries of the show he meant to write. When a stranger joins the group demanding answers, the line between fiction and reality fades, twisting meaning and identity irreversibly. What begins as a play-within-a-play devolves into a play-without-a-play, until all that’s left is the truth. If we can even call it that.”

The Carol Piersol Legacy Project

July 3rd – July 21st, 2024

“As part of our year long celebration of Firehouse founder Carol Piersol, we will honor her legacy with a new production of a landmark Firehouse project! Join us for the unveiling of the Carol Piersol Stage later this summer, and be the first to hear about this Pulitzer Prize-winning addition.”

For MainStage productions, as of right now, tickets are only available to purchase for Berta, Berta. For all other shows, consider becoming a member, and tickets will become available soon.

After all this, and when you consider their readings, Pop-up Premieres, and workshops, The New Theatre at Firehouse has at least an additional ten presentations of new works either in process or under consideration.

Firehouse remains absolutely committed to providing “producing infrastructure to unhoused theatre companies and independent creators,” said Nathaniel Shaw through email. This stands out as a core value that keeps them closely connected to the community that sets them apart. If an artist has the vision and the ability to produce, they can approach Firehouse with their plans, and the organization will provide them with everything they need to bring their vision to life.

This grassroots style of production breaks down barriers and eliminates the obstacles often associated with entering the theatre or any art form, setting The New Theatre at Firehouse apart. It’s a central pillar among many in the entirety of the Richmond arts scene, which sets this city apart as one of humility and lacking pretension. Four different companies including 5th Wall Theatre and Yes! And Theatrical Co. will be in residency at Firehouse this season, as well as “a Fringe lineup boasting more than 30 independent performers,” said Shaw. If you crave new theatre, and a lot of it, then it seems like Firehouse might be your new haunt.

We will definitely be keeping an eye on the developments at The New Theatre at Firehouse this coming season, and we will take a deeper dive into the people behind this one-of-a-kind organization and the projects they produce as they come into the light. To show support, become a member, or learn more, visit

Top photo provided by The New Theatre at Firehouse

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

But you may call me Bones. I'm the Associate Editor of RVA Mag, and a writer and musician living in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, an album of original music, and perform lead vocals with the band Pebbles Palace.

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