Company of Fools Grey Gardens

About The Fools

The History of Company of Fools

In May 1992, Company of Fools (COF) was founded in response to an essay titled “The Vision of the Fool” by visual artist Cecil Collins. In Collins’ essay, the fool embodies truth, joy, creativity and a childlike wonder of all that is magical and mysterious. A series of discussions initiated by the Company’s founder, Rusty Wilson, and original Company members Vicki Bodin, John Glenn, Denise Simone, Robert Throckmorton and Joel Vilinsky, articulated a vision of a theatre company that embodied the qualities of the fool and was vital to its community. Rusty’s unheated garage in Richmond, Virginia, served as the Company’s first acting studio. It was there that the Company realized four years of training and launched three productions—two evenings of Tennessee Williams’ one-acts at the Historic Hanover Tavern, a full production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie in partnership with Barksdale Theatre and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley.

The History Liberty Theatre, home of Company of Fools

In the fall of 1996, Rusty and founding member Denise Simone relocated to Hailey, Idaho, intent on continuing the Company’s work. For its inaugural Idaho presentation, the Company adapted Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman on a shoestring budget and performed it for 30 people over two nights at $5 a ticket. Twenty five years later, COF has evolved into an award-winning theatre that produces a full season of plays while providing substantial arts education programming for its community.

In November 2012, the Company merged with the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, becoming part of what is now the largest arts institution in the state of Idaho.

In June 2017, John Glenn, Co-Founder of COF and COF Artistic Director, died unexpectedly. John’s death was a tragic and pivotal event for the company and our community. With the overwhelming support of the community, our board of directors, and staff leadership, SVCA secured the future of COF including establishing a new COF leadership structure.

Also in 2017, the historic Liberty Theatre in Hailey was gifted to SVCA by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis and will remain COF’s permanent residence.

In 2019, COF became the first theatre in Idaho to join the National New Play Network, America’s premiere organization promoting new American plays. Also in 2019, COF became the first theatre in Idaho to join Theatre Development Fund’s Autism-Friendly Theatre Network. TDF advocates for accessible live theatre performing arts experiences for patrons with a range of spectrum or sensory disorders. COF will offer “sensory friendly” performances throughout our season - specifically designed for audience members with autism, spectrum disorders, or other sensory disorders. COF is also a proud member of the “Blue Star Theatres” network, providing discounted tickets for US military personnel, National Guard members, veterans of the armed forces, and Red Card personnel (firefighters).

COF has been recognized numerous times for its significant contributions to the arts. Founding members Denise Simone and John Glenn are both recipients of the Idaho Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts—Simone in 2014 and Glenn in 2016. In 2009 the Company was awarded Arts Advocate of the Year by the Sun Valley/Ketchum and Hailey Chambers of Commerce. In 2004, COF was honored as a recipient of the Idaho Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In December 2000, the Company became the first theatre in Idaho’s history to receive Constituent Theatre status from Theatre Communication Group, the national organization for the professional, nonprofit American theatre.

COF produces four to five mainstage productions, a play reading series, and theatre arts education programming for the community each year.

 Company of Fools Professional Memberships & Affiliations

USITT logo
Actors' Equity Association logo
Theatre Communications Group logo
National New Play Network logo
Autism Theatre Initiative logo