Dog Story Theater is an ALL-VOLUNTEER , 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Dog Story Theater is a VENUE and does not produce shows. Our mission is simply to provide an affordable, flexible performance space for performers, directors, writers, dancers, comedians, poets, filmmakers and musicians to showcase their work!


QUESTION: What’s with the name?

ANSWER: One of the most frequently-asked questions we hear is “How did Dog Story Theater get its name?” A valid question indeed, since it’s an unusual name for a theater. Our name is actually derived directly from the production that helped to spawn its creation… which is The Zoo Story, by Edward Albee.


QUESTION: When and how did it start?

ANSWER: Back in 2007, Dog Story founders Jay Harnish and Josh Fremer worked together on The Zoo Story when the idea of opening a theater was born. They wanted to open a small black box theater in Grand Rapids, which would allow productions like theirs an affordable place to perform. (It’s called a black box because traditionally, these types of venues were shaped like a box and the walls were painted black.) Once they decided to start their own theater, they had to decide on a name. They chose Dog Story, which is after a 20 minute monologue in The Zoo Story, in which Jay’s character Jerry tells a story about a dog. And thus, the theater had a name.

Jay and Josh recruited the help of Amy McFadden and Becki West and became incorporated as a nonprofit organization while securing a home in downtown Grand Rapids. After much preparation and hard work, in 2008 Dog Story Theater opened its doors for the first time. The first production was appropriately The Zoo Story, starring DST founders Jay Harnish and Josh Fremer.

Since then, Dog Story has grown and gone through many changes. Jay and Josh have both moved on to other things but new board members have joined forces with us. We moved from our temporary location at 311 State street to 1115 Taylor and are thrilled to be in our new and current location is at 7 Jefferson Ave. SE in downtown Grand Rapids.


QUESTION: What kinds of shows perform at Dog Story Theater?

ANSWER: Dog Story has seen many different acts grace its stage. Everything from original plays like Moose Mating, Sleepy Hollow and FXIII the Musical to staged productions like Boston Marriage, True West and Tuna Christmas. We’ve worked with great companies like Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, PowerDiva Productions, Playbox Media Group and Grand Rapids Dance Project. We’ve worked with the Atomic Hoop Troupe and hosted the debut of the Rita & Velvet Dan movie. We’ve featured live music like The Interruptions and even hosted the Creolization live CD recording. Want comedy? Dog Story has been the home to shows like Old Lady Monday, The Rita & Velvet Dan Show and is currently the home of The Pop Scholars. Every Monday is comedy night featuring artists from River City Improv, Second City, Improv Olympic and more.

So in a nutshell… Dog Story Theater is truly a place that has something for everyone. Come down and check us out!



Josh Fremer

Jay Harnish

Amy McFadden

Becki West



Joe Anderson

Chuck Fortenbacher

Dan Hawkins

Kat Hermes

Jen Hines

Liz Merriman

Bill Place



Clare Mahave

Bradley Briegel

Tanya Eby

Justin Lawrence

Mike Ryskamp