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When Stephanie Richardson was in a car accident in 2005, she lost the fingers on her left hand. But instead of letting it keep her down, it inspired her to follow her dreams. Richardson, a professional actress who moved to Reno in 2000, thought she might open her own theater program one day.

After the accident, she decided to make it a reality, resulting in the birth of the TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada (TWNN). Her goal with the company was to promote the theater experience for people of all ages and provide a venue for anyone interested in theater. Those goals would later become a key part of TWNN’s mission statement.

Richardson received a grant from the Sierra Arts Foundation after starting the company. She used the money to rent space at the McKinley Arts Center in downtown Reno and organize TWNN’s first production, Bang, Bang, You’re Dead. The production, which focuses on a teenager who shoots and kills his parents and classmates, was chosen to show audience members the consequences of impulsive acts.

Since that first show, the company has grown in size and recognition. Completely run on grants and donations, TWNN was declared a nonprofit organization in 2006, with Richardson as its executive director.

TWNN’s past productions include Welcome to The Moon, 15 Reasons to Not Be in a Play, Korczak’s Children, and A Tale About a Fairy Tale. Throughout the year, TWNN produces between three and five productions, including one production that runs during the annual Artown program in Reno. TWNN’s board wants to increase that number to eight productions per year in the future.

TWNN works with other nonprofits in northern Nevada to promote various causes. In 2007, TWNN’s Dog Music acted as a fundraiser for the SPCA of Northern Nevada and encouraged animal adoptions. In 2008, Goldilocks on Trial served as a book drive for the Washoe County School District’s Read and Succeed program. While performances take place in a number of typical theater venues around northern Nevada, TWNN also has brought its shows to senior community centers and detention centers. A teen intervention and prevention program with KIDS KOTTAGE allows teens to practice and perform monologues by working with TWNN professionals.

TWNN offers theater classes for children, teenagers, and adults. Taught by professionals, the classes focus on character development, improvisation, and other acting techniques. Scholarships are available for children and teens who cannot afford the classes. In keeping with Richardson’s goal to make theater available to the entire community, show ticket prices are kept low to make it an affordable form of entertainment.