These four artistic directors have helped their upstart theater companies emerge since arriving in Washington in recent years:

Scott Fortier, 34, artistic director of Catalyst Theater, grew up in the Boston area and received his bachelor's degree in theater from Catholic University. The company, formed in 2001, presents three major productions a year at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and has added a new-play reading to its roster. In addition to the company of young actors often in Catalyst's plays -- including Fortier's wife, September -- a number of local theater stalwarts, such as Ralph Cosham and Valerie Leonard, have been cast in Catalyst shows, and well-known Washington directors, including Jim Petosa and Halo Wines, have staged productions.

Jenny McConnell Frederick, 29, works in development for Woolly Mammoth Theatre by day and by night at Rorschach Theatre, where she is the co-artistic director. She grew up in Fairfax County and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she majored in performance. After college, she worked for a time at Theater J, where she became friendly with Randy Baker, and they and two others founded Rorschach in 1999. The company, now ensconced in the Casa del Pueblo Methodist Church, was nomadic in its early years, and even staged a play in a greenhouse atop the old Hechinger on Wisconsin Avenue. (Her father, she says, helped remodel that space.)

Randy Baker, 31, Rorschach's co-artistic director, grew up overseas, mostly in Singapore, where his father was a teacher and his mother an editor. His first extended stay in the United States came when he enrolled at the University of Richmond, where he majored in English. After college, he moved to Washington. Baker -- who, like Frederick, is a stage director -- has authored several plays and is now writing "The Epic of Gilgamesh." He loves when the company experiments with the church space. For a recent production of "Behold!" Rorschach laid an asphalt road through the space.

Just after graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Jeremy Skidmore, 28, served as an assistant director for productions in London, at the Globe Theatre, and Taiwan. At the urging of the school's dean, Gerald Freedman, Skidmore came to Washington in 2001 to assist director Aaron Posner on a Folger Theatre show. Shortly thereafter, Skidmore was named artistic director of Theater Alliance. The company, founded in 1993, offers a five-production season at the H Street Playhouse, a widely admired storefront space that was renovated by company benefactors Adele and Bruce Robey.