Mission Statement

Boxcar Theatre is dedicated to supporting bold concepts and unique visions of emerging and established directors. Utilizing dynamic imagery, physical movement, and innovative storytelling, Boxcar strives to establish an environment in which audiences are engaged in a visceral sense and an intellectual capacity.


By offering affordable prices to non-traditional and traditional theatergoers, we aim to expand the theatre community. With an uncompromising approach to both new work and proven classics, we look to explode the concept of what theatre can be.

Artistic Director Nick A. Olivero
Photo credit: Peter Liu


What’s in a Name

The origin of the Boxcar Theatre name has garnered many questions over the years. While unsuccessfully trying to settle on a name for the company, company founders, Nick A. Olivero and Peter Matthews deviated from topic trying to recall a drink they had a few months earlier at the Huntington Hotel in Nob Hill. Matthews identified the drink as the Sidecar, which opened the door for new potential company names. Not wanting to name their company after an alcoholic beverage, the following thirty meandering minutes resulted in the two choosing Boxcar for its scrappy and nomadic origins. Boxcar, as it would turn out, is also the name of an alcoholic beverage.

History of Boxcar

In 2003, Nick A. Olivero left Chicago feeling the city was super-saturated with theatre companies. Looking for an arts-centric environment with potential for growth, San Francisco became the clear choice. In summer of 2004, he met and performed alongside Peter Matthews. By the end of that year, after performing in a second show together, the two formed a prosperous working relationship.


Boxcar Theatre was founded in January of 2005 with its mission focused on creating original work devised in an ensemble setting. The companies' first production, 21/One: Twenty-One Shows in One Hour played to sold-out houses at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. The play was voted "Best of the Fringe" and Boxcar Theatre awarded "Best New Company." Boxcar quickly followed up its success with its first three-play season. During their nomadic period, the company became known for its unusual performance locations: a beach, bus, office building, furniture store, living rooms, and museums across the Bay Area.


In 2007, the company took over a 49-seat black box theatre on Natoma, renaming it the Boxcar Playhouse. In July of 2010, with funding from the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the company opened the Boxcar Theatre Studios, which has two performance venues and an artist gallery. Despite its grounded roots in SoMA and the Tenderloin, the company continues to produce site-specific performances.


The original mission of Boxcar has evolved dramatically since it's founding. Once dedicated to new work and devised material, the company shifted focus in December of 2009 in becoming a "Directors Theatre". A strong emphasis was also placed on assisting the development of other emerging theatre companies through programming and by offering affordable rehearsal and performance space.


Today, Boxcar continues to evolve as it serves its mission and community. Still under the artistic direction Nick A. Olivero, audiences have come to enjoy the immersive experiences created whether they are original theatrical events, epic repertory series', or a larger than life musical.