Posts Tagged ‘Triangle theatre’

CURRENT Opening Electrifies Downtown Chapel Hill Arts

Downtown Chapel Hill gained an exciting new arts venue with the February 2 opening of the  CURRENT™ ArtSpace + Studio on Franklin Street.CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio Presented by California Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina, the 7,000-square-foot space houses both an adaptable black box-style theater and multi-purpose studio. The facility is designed to feature immersive and co-creative arts experiences, including interactive theater and full-scale installations by exciting and emerging artists. CURRENT™ will also serve as Carolina Performing Arts’ physical and intellectual home for world-class artists-in-residence to collaborate with faculty, researchers, students, and the community.

The new venue,  strategically located in the new, mixed-use development adjacent to both the UNC campus and the vibrant downtown shopping and dining district, is distinguished by its unconventional, flexible architecture. The 3,000-square-foot Studio features three floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Carolina Square outdoor space, passersby can peek in to see dance rehearsals, artist lectures, and much more.

Photo & Caption, University Gazette: The CURRENT venue features one wall that is all glass and seating that can go anywhere (one side to four sides)—or nowhere (completely retractable).

The Studio is also a new home for the Carolina Performing Arts artists-in-residence to develop their work in collaboration with others. The theater space can accommodate many different configurations, depending upon the needs of a particular event, from artist talks to post-performance gatherings, creative workshops, and many other artistic and community events.


Emil Kang, Executive and Artistic Director of UNC Performing Arts and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at UNC, speaks at the Opening Ceremonies.

The CURRENT™ opening ceremonies included a tour of the inaugural Sound Maze installation by artist Paul Dresher. Sound Maze is a hands-on art experience featuring more than a dozen giant musical instruments invented by Dresher. Visitors were invited to wander through and discover new ways of creating sound with these fantastical instruments. Opening events included works involving audience participation (“We are Gob Squad and So are You,” and “Revolution Now” by Gob Squad) ; activist hip-hop performance (Boots Riley and the Coup); and contemporary theatre (“The Fever” by 600 Highwaymen).

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Triangle adds THREE new theatre companies.

By Taryn Oesch

I often think that the only thing that would entice me to move to New York would be access to Broadway. To see great shows, planned, managed, and performed by talented people, anytime I wanted? Paradise.

But then I remember: I have that here in the Triangle.  There are so many great theatre companies here, from well-established icons like Raleigh Little Theatre to several newer companies.

I spoke with three companies that recently joined the Triangle theatre community and can tell you now that I have absolutely no need to move to New York.

Seed Art Share

Seed Art Share has its roots in a ministry founded in 2010 at Capital City Christian Church by a group that included teachers, artists, performers, nutritionists, psychologists, social workers, parents, children, and other “lovers of people.” However, it grew into its current form more recently, in 2013. Its goal, according to director Renee Wimberley, is “not just to produce, but to create opportunities to partner” with other organizations to enrich Raleigh’s creative community.

There are three main components to Seed. The first is its theatre classes. Wimberley says her passion is arts integration and Seed’s classes reflect that passion. They integrate the arts into academic content areas like math or history and provide materials to help parents extend the education at home.

The second component is Share the Show. Seed partners with local theatre companies to provide free childcare during performances. Share the Show is more than daycare, though. Volunteers provide age-appropriate programming connected to the show’s themes as well as parent resources so they can discuss it with their children.

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Christine Lane and Lazarus Simmons on Peace St. in Seeds performance of “Moving Pieces 2” Summer 2015 – In this show, the audience followed along with the cast live and on social media!

Seed doesn’t only augment other theatres’ productions; it also produces its own interactive, site-specific performances. For example, at First Night Raleigh 2016, Seed produced “Who’s @First?,” a play by local playwright Ian Finley in which audience members followed Sir Walter Raleigh, the Wright Brothers, and other North Carolina characters throughout various Downtown Raleigh sites. Coming this summer is another historical, downtown production called “A Night at the City of Raleigh Museum.”

Seed doesn’t only augment other theatres’ productions; it also produces its own interactive, site-specific performances. For example, at First Night Raleigh 2016, Seed produced “Who’s @First?,” a play by local playwright Ian Finley in which audience members followed Sir Walter Raleigh, the Wright Brothers, and other North Carolina characters throughout various Downtown Raleigh sites. Coming this summer is another historical, downtown production called “A Night at the City of Raleigh Museum.”

The great thing about these productions, Wimberley says, is that their organic nature means the “audience is able to connect with each other in a way they aren’t normally able to during a play.”

Get Involved: Seed can be booked for school or community events and they also help actors with childcare when they are busy with performances. The organization is currently presenting Bard in the Yard, an interactive Shakespeare workshop, and bringing Shakespeare to children in local parks and outdoor events as part of the Triangle’s Artify and Wherefore projects. Visit Seed’s website for more information on these and other programs.

Ward Theatre Company/Ward Acting Studio

Wendy Ward is a Triangle newcomer who also works in the space created by the intersection of theatre and education, although hers is more targeted and aimed at a different audience.

Founded in 1996, Ward Acting Studio uses the Meisner acting technique in six-week acting intensives, part-time acting classes, Skype acting classes, and professional coaching. In 2005, Ward moved into theatre management as well by establishing Ward Theatre Company in New York City. Two years later, its piece “I Wish You A Boat” received two nominations for New York Innovative Theatre Awards in Outstanding Acting.

Jacuzzi, photo by Robbie Wiggins

Emma Jo McKay and Brandon Cooke in a scene from Ward Theatre’s “Jacuzzi”

Since then, Ward Theatre Company has moved to Philadelphia, Australia, and now Durham, debuting with “Jacuzzi” in February. I went to see the play and was blown away by the caliber of everyone involved. “Indy Week” gave the production a great review, so I won’t do the same here. What I can say is that I will definitely be returning to the small theatre.

Size works to the company’s advantage both artistically and pedagogically. The set was surrounded on three sides by one row of seats for the audience – that’s it. It created an intensely intimate atmosphere (especially considering it was largely set in a hot tub), but it also, according to Ward, gave the actors a chance to really hone their skills. They can’t afford to get it wrong when the audience is up-close and personal.

Get Involved: Ward Theatre Company’s next production is its signature piece, “I Wish You A Boat” (based on the voyage and sinking of “The Stella” in 1899) from July 9 through August 28. Actors interested in studying with Wendy Ward at Ward Acting Studio can check out her website.  Ward Theatre’s Durham studio space is also available for rental for rehearsals. See pictures of the space here.

Mortall Coile

Mortall Coile (name and spelling taken from a first folio version of Hamlet) was created by Jesse Gephart to, in his words, “produce stories that moved me, stories about lives at their most extreme moments.” Their first production, in 2013, was Adam Rapp’s solo piece “Nocturne,” about a 32-year-old former piano prodigy and the destruction of his family. The company tends toward such works that center on “pivotal, explosive moments in characters’ lives.”


Ben Pluska, George Hill and Gil Faison in a scene from “Master Harold and the Boys”. Photo by Alexa Rose Photography.

Mortall Coile’s latest show was “Master Harold…And the Boys” by Athol Fugard, a South African playwright who has used the art of theatre to fight apartheid. The production received a five-star review in “Indy Week.”

Get Involved: Like Seed, Mortall Coile puts a lot of emphasis on collaboration, which Gephart believes “leads to stronger art.” He collaborates with not only theatrical artists, but artists in other mediums in order to create innovation in the theatre. The company is always looking to meet on-stage and behind-the-scenes artists to join them. Mortall Coile performs at various venues across the Triangle, making its schedule sporadic. Following its website, follow them on Facebook or joining its mailing list are the best ways to find out about auditions and upcoming performances.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website

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Sonorous Road Opens in Raleigh – Brings performance space, studio, classes.

1440614847878Michelle Wells has always had an incredible passion for theatre and the arts in general. After living in Boston and the UK, she recently retuned home to Raleigh and is pursuing her dream of opening a studio to teach film and theater classes for both new and professional artists.


Sonorous Road’s Black Box Theater.

The studio is centrally located near Cameron Village in Raleigh and, during the week, has a range of classes including acting for film, acting for theatre, filmmaking, musical theatre, theatre production, piano lessons, public speaking, and even history. Sonorous Road produces their own professional performances throughout the year and holds productions and film screenings for their students.

For those looking for a venue for a performance or showcase, the Black Box theater seats 99 and the facility is equipped with a spacious lobby, restrooms, and box office space. The stage space and audience seating can be customized to suit your needs including seating risers, dressing rooms, and control booth. There is space to produce your next play, film your next short, or showcase art of any kind! The studio is currently booking rentals through May 31, 2016.


Sonorous Road also has space for filmmaking.

In filmmaking classes, students will receive a hands-on experience of the entire process from screenwriting and directing to lighting, sound, and editing. Most Musical Theatre and Theatre Production courses are year-long classes and teach the elements of putting on a show from the auditions to the final performance. Sonorous Road also offers a wide array of classes during the school day for homeschool students to supplement their at-home curriculum during the year.


The coffee bar, lounge area.


If you want to see the space, Sonorous Road’s Grand Opening is set for Saturday, August 29th with events starting at 10:00am. The studio is located at 209 Oberlin Road, Raleigh, NC. Feel free to reach out by email or (919) 803-3798 if you have any questions.  Or visit their website to learn more.





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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.


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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