When Scott and Pam Nolte founded Seattle’s Taproot Theatre in 1976, it was a small touring company of actors that performed in churches, schools and libraries, “with our life and faith firmly rooted in God the Creator,” according to its first printed program. 

Now, 44 years later, the Noltes are retiring, leaving a theater that serves over 180,000 people a year, has over 3,000 subscribers, and includes an acting studio and both touring and mainstage productions, according to the theater’s news release Monday.

The couple has seen the theater through fires and high water, literally. In 2009, a fire in Greenwood that destroyed several businesses left the theater with smoke and water damage. This year, COVID-19 and its accompanying restrictions on live performances took their toll.

Scott Nolte, producing artistic director, has directed more than 150 productions during his time at Taproot, pursuing “plays exploring issues of justice, race, and economic division in addition to plays that entertain and bring laughter,” according to the news release.

Pam Nolte served in multiple positions throughout her years with the company, including as marketing director, community liaison, company actor and teaching artist. Most recently she worked creating and managing theater classes for individuals experiencing memory loss.

Although the Noltes are retiring from their current roles, they plan to continue acting and directing with the company from time to time.

Karen Lund, Taproot’s current associate artistic director, will take over as producing artistic director at the end of this year.