Different Stages was founded in 1980 as Small Potatoes Theatrical Company. Lucy Lister, Angero Holt, and Norman E. Blumensaadt incorporated it as a nonprofit organization under its present name in 1984. From its inception, the theatre has been committed to the performance not only of famous plays but also of lesser-known works. Plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw, and O'Neill have been recurring favorites; but Different Stages has also introduced Austin audiences to the works of Caryl Churchill, Jane Martin, Keith Reddin, Charles Ludlum, Constance Congdon, Marlane Meyer, Pierre Marivaux, and Edit Villarreal.
The company has produced over 130 plays, ranging from romantic to neo-classic to realistic to surrealistic. It has staged several world premieres--four translations by Austin scholars, including one by Professor Douglass Parker, and original scripts by Austin playwrights Tom White and Ann Ciccolella.
Norman Blumensaadt has been the Producing Artistic Director since the beginning of the company and continues in that role. However, in 1993 an Operational Board (separate from the Board of Directors) was formed to share the day-to-day operations of the company. It includes Norman Blumensaadt, Paula Gilbert, Royce Gehrels, and Michael Growblewski. The Operational Board has been involved with Different Stages for many years; but there are also numerous other noteworthy Austin directors, designers, and actors who continue to enrich its productions.