La Boite Theatre, the oldest theatre company in Brisbane and the second oldest in Australia, has not only survived for over eighty years in an unbroken line of theatrical activity but has successfully negotiated the difficult transitions in status from an amateur group to a ‘pro-am’ theatre to a prospering professional company. How it managed such a transformation is the subject of this paper, based on my recent doctoral study of La Boite’s history. The paper focuses on a set of findings that emerged in response to the thesis question. Backgrounding the findings is the story of how I ‘controlled’ and gave shape and meaning to what appeared initially to be an unwieldy, long and messy history. The findings converge around key ‘manifestations’ of effective artistic and organisational leadership identified in my research as crucial to the company’s successful journey to professional status.