Home Musical play New theater companies give Durham a wave of new growth

New theater companies give Durham a wave of new growth

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Advanced Maternal Rabies | Fun Mom Strip | Ruby on Five Points, Durham | September 15, 9 p.m.

Trivia and Hello there! | Firebox Theater Company | Event Gallery, The Cotton Company, Wake Forest | Sept. 15-25

Flight over a cuckoo’s nest | LGB Productions Levin Jewish Community Centre, Durham | 15-18 Sept.

Julius Caesar | Shakespeare Scrap Paper | Back to One Studios, Raleigh | Sept. 30–Oct. 2

Fuddy Meer | Switchyard Theater Company | Burning Coal Theater, Raleigh | October 20-28

A dollhouse, part 2 | RedBird Theater Company | Durham Bottling Company, Durham | November 11-19


Why do people form theater groups? For Beth Brody, it was the largely overlooked fact that residential mental health care had deteriorated dramatically in the United States since the 1960s. For David Berberian, he noted that independent theater had no stable home in Durham for the past few years, and Naomi Kraut just needed something – anything – to help her cope with being a mother homeschooling her children in a pandemic.

These artists and others are all part of a groundswell in regional theatre, dance and performing arts communities this fall, as five new groups join the Switchyard Theater Company to mount productions through November. .

“I think America’s mental health crisis is hugely overlooked,” Brody says of his current revival of Flight over a cuckoo’s nest for LGB Productions. She cites statistics showing that the number of psychiatric hospital beds in the United States has fallen by 97% since the 1960s, with half of the remaining beds reserved for the criminal justice system. “Sixty years later, we’re still flying over the cuckoo’s nest,” she says.

Durham’s theater scene has been scattered since the Manbites Dog Theater transitioned in 2018 from a society that produced and hosted artists in its space on Foster Street to a grantmaking organization devoted to funding new work.

“Everyone jumps from space to space, whatever they can find,” Berberian says. RedBird Theatre, the company he co-founded with Derrick Ivey and Jeri Lynn Schulke, plants its flag with a September 29 launch party and a first season of work at the Durham Bottling Company. The move is meant to help “bring back that sense of community that the Manbites embodied. Part of that means having your own space, where people know you’re going to be.

After a decade-long stint in a small-town Texas theater, Wake Forest native Cora Hemphill returned determined to start a business in her hometown where actors are paid to do professional-level work. Firebox Theatre, which she started with director Tim Artz, bows this week with two one-act acts that take audiences from a chilly 1910 Iowa farmhouse to a small Texas prison cell, several decades later. “I’ve seen how a theater can enrich a community, and I so want this city to experience that richness,” Hemphill said.

During the pandemic, student director Emma Szuba stumbled upon a filmmaking when necessity forced her to direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona with six actors in 60 minutes, with minimal props and costumes.

“We found a way to keep it small and scrappy and safe and efficient,” Szuba recalls. “And the public really reacted!”

Thus was born the idea of ​​Scrap Paper Shakespeare, an ongoing experiment that we will see in a late September production of Julius Caesar. “It’s going to be small and simple. The beauty of Shakespeare is in the words.

Before the pandemic, Kraut was a professor of education at Duke. Then COVID-19 hit and — boom — she was homeschooling the kids. She remembers the shocking headlines, during confinement, about the harshness of the pandemic that was hitting mothers.

“But it’s always been part of America, all the time,” Kraut says. “Just to survive, I started writing down things they said that I was thinking about at the time.”

Then Kraut started making songs with his bass guitar. Then she started recording them.

Then come the puppets: characters who interpret the songs. After that, music videos, like “Covid Test” and “Zoom School Is the Worst,” on YouTube. Almost before she knew it, Kraut had made a puppet musical: The Worst Puppet Musical, to be exact. A live performance is in preparation.

His latest addition to the musical, which comes out this week, deals with aging. “When you’re a new mom, society showers you and you get the shine. Then you just become the annoying butt of all the jokes,” Kraut notes wryly. only getting worse.”

The 10 minute video is called Advanced Maternal Rabies. His premiere falls at a Bull City Summit party on Thursday night at Rubies on Five Points.


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