Common Wealth Endeavors Brings Global English To The Triangle

by Sarah Hagar

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Common Wealth Endeavors is a theatre company that brings drama from English-speaking countries outside of the United States to right here in the Triangle. Through this, locals are able to enjoy stories from different cultures told in a medium that is easy to understand.

Gregor McElvogue was inspired to start Common Wealth because of the passion and confidence he found in actors, directors and dramas that didn’t yet have a home. After coming across a Toronto theatre blog reviewing “The Innocents,” he contacted the playwright and asked for a copy of the play. The script fell in line with the Common Wealth mission and he felt it would be well accepted by the audience here in North Carolina. Creating something concrete out of an idea and a thirst takes time, but McElvogue was able to bring it to fruition within eight months after this encounter.

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A scene from Common Wealth’s current production of “MANY MOONS”, Left to Right -G Scott Heath, Mary Guthrie, J Evarts, David Sweeney. (c)Alex Maness Photography.

Common Wealth operates as an LLC and is a sponsored project of non-profit service organization Fractured Atlas. Outside of the United States, theatrical cooperatives are more popular routes than sole ownership.  “As we all know, profits are few and far between in theatre,” McElvogue said. “So, the idea of making this a cooperative is to underscore that everyone is being paid the same amount and being recognized as equally important, equally invested, in the success of the production and the company.”

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Matthew Hagar in Common Wealth’s production of “The Innocents”. (c)Alex Maness Photography.

When seeking plays to perform, McElvogue wants ones that bring fresh ideas and plots that resonate with their audience. Then, the challenge of finding the right team, space and time narrows the process. Each of the plays Common Wealth produced in 2013 have been United States premiere productions, with hopes that future plays are also North Carolina premieres.  “I’m interested in plays that come from cultures where English is a part of the everyday – not where it’s a foreign language or where the culture itself needs a major translation to be understood in the US. Other groups in the Triangle are successfully exploring those types of work,” said McElvogue. Rather than trying to assimilate a script to American culture, the settings will stay true to their original intentions. By holding true to writers’ original work, one must respect regional diction and slang. Therefore, some programs will include glossaries so audience members can follow along instead of getting hung up on a word or phrase or distracted.

Currently, the plays are being produced at Common Ground Theatre, which as a capacity of 55-65 people. Common Wealth welcomes volunteers interested in areas such as box office, set building, actors, and street team marketing.  Common Wealth is currently performing “Many Moons” by Alice Birch, a U.S. premiere and finalist for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. The shows are at Common Ground Theatre located in Durham. Evening performances begin at 8:00 PM and are November 14-16. Tickets are available online and over the phone.

To stay up to date on upcoming productions, follow Common Wealth on Facebook. For more information about Common Wealth, visit their website.

Sarah Hager is a graduate of N.C. State University and currently works in marketing. She DJs at WKNC 88.1 and is enthusiastic about North Carolina’s music scene. In her free time, she enjoys going to shows, reading and playing guitar. You can follow Sarah on Twitter  or email her. 

 

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