Startup Renegade Theatre Group hopes to defy the odds
|By Jim Aquino
|One of the newest theater groups in the South Bay, the Renegade Theatre Experiment (RTE) is attempting to bring to San Jose
edgy material that would be overlooked by other local stage
groups. Such material includes Hear Me Roar!: Women's Images
of Self, a trio of feminist-themed playlets that RTE will
perform Aug. 21-31 at Santa Clara University's Fess Parker
"We're a fledgling little group. I hate to use the term, but
it's like a startup," says RTE co-founder and artistic director
Sean C. Murphy, who began RTE last year with several fellow
actor/director alumni from Santa Clara University.
While helping each other practice monologues and prepare for
auditions, Murphy and his actor friends decided to start their
own theater company.
"Now that we're getting involved with San Jose's arts scene
- and seeing how dire things are for some of the companies
- we're either coming in at a very bad time or we're growing
stronger at a very good time," Murphy says.
RTE Managing Director Whitney Quinn Stebbins, another of the
company's many co-founders, acknowledges that keeping their
new company afloat has been challenging at a time when local
community theater attendance has decreased.
"It'll be interesting for us to see what our attendance is
going to be like on this next show, Hear Me Roar!,
because this is our first production where we've had a stronger
publicity push," Stebbins says. "At times, it's been discouraging
because maybe there's not as many people in the audience as
we want. But then there are days when we're so excited because
twice as many people showed up than we expected."
The troupe is having difficulty finding a suitable venue for
The Woman in Black, an RTE horror play that's been
scheduled for performances in October, in time for Halloween.
"The October production is in jeopardy right now. We need
to find a space really soon. If we can't find a space, we're
going to have to cancel that show," says Murphy, who wants
a theater that can accommodate the play's elaborate technical
effects. "I saw the play in London years ago, and it's the
only play that I've ever been to where the audience members
screamed and were terrified."
Things haven't been as cursed for Hear Me Roar!, which
developed after Stebbins saw a Santa Clara University theater
student's production of The Most Massive Woman Wins,
a one-act play about women's body issues.
"While every single person in our group really loved that
show, our concern was that it was a one-act play, so we proceeded
to look for other productions that would fit with The Most
Massive Woman Wins theme, to augment it," Stebbins says.
The two other one-act pieces the group decided to perform
were Chocolate Cake, another play about women's body
issues, and Inner Struggle, an interpretative dance
piece choreographed by RTE member Evangeline "Vangie" Maynard.
Stebbins says RTE hopes to break in new playwrights and their
works. One play that the group is interested in performing
in the future is Avery Crozier's interactive piece Eat
"It's a play where eight characters can be played by different
actors. The audience casts the show at the beginning, so each
actor has to learn every single part because every actor is
playing something different.
"Hear Me Roar!" will be performed Aug. 21-24 and
Aug. 28-31 at 8 p.m. at the Fess Parker Studio Theatre,
Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara.
For more information, call 408.351.4440 or visit http://www.renegadetheatre.com/.
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