James Prince stepped into the realm of theater when he was 10 years old.

“I went to some acting classes with a friend of mine and loved it,” Prince said. “I didn’t have any money, so they let me clean up the theater [in exchange]for free acting lessons.”

Prince took a break from theatrical endeavors in high school. Once in college, though, he decided to pursue acting as a career.

“[Theater] was the only thing that made me feel alive,” Prince said.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in theater at The University of Texas at Dallas, Prince spent time in Los Angeles before moving to Houston with his wife, Annette.

In the early ’90s, Prince had his own traveling theater company, but as he and Annette grew their family, he took a break from the theater world. In 2008, Prince moved his family back to the Dallas area, and in 2009, The Core Theatre was born.

Productions put on by the theater are mostly originals written by Prince as well as some adaptations by other playwrights.

Between seven to eight shows are performed each year in front of an audience of up to 54 people. Prince says his plays are intended to reveal hard truths and cause people to confront themselves, he said.

“Theater always has to entertain and … keep people captivated and focused,” Prince said. “But if it doesn’t present something that people can take away … that affects and changes their lives, then you’re really just wasting your time as far as I’m concerned.”

As a nonprofit, Prince said the theater relies on donations and grants for its productions.

“We couldn’t survive as a for-profit [organization],” Prince said. “If I charged what it costs to produce a show, I’d have to charge $150-$200 a ticket, and nobody can afford that.”

Fortunately for Prince, the city of Richardson has shown a commitment to the arts by awarding the theater money through its cultural arts commission.

“To me, Richardson is in a transition period,” Prince said. “It grew up as a technology hub, not as an arts one, and they’re now recognizing the power of the arts, and they’re trying to support the arts.”