November 26, 2014
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Fringe theatres abound in Rhode Island

While Rhode Island is blessed with a number of quality theatres (Trinity, Gamm, 2nd Story, PPAC and Theatre-by-the-Sea heading the list), plus a number of community and college theatre groups, we have seen a number of fringe groups entering the scene.

While this is good news for theatre buffs, actors, writers and directors, the jury is still out on whether our small state can sustain more theatres and whether there is enough talent to go around. There is also the financial challenge of finding space, advertising and filling seats.

Small Ax Theatre

Providence’s newest professional theatre company is, according to founder Ken Broccoli, “committed to bringing exciting and provocative theatre to Rhode Island.”

They produced a successful “Othello” at India Point Park last September, and the R.I. Premiere of Douglas Carter’s The Little Dog Laughed” in October. In March, Artistic Director Kevin Broccoli presented his 24-hour plays, performed after an all-night writing session.

Currently, Small Ax is presenting “Famous People,” written and directed by Broccoli, at the Hope Artistic Village, 999 Main St., Pawtucket.

The brief, one-act production consists of 10 monologues by 10 different actors about what happens when art and fame collide. Opening with Wayne Hawkins, a.k.a. Sabrina Blaze, and winding up with Tray Gearing, the piece takes a close look at how fringe movie and stage actors view and deal with fame in a small state like Rhode Island.

You can still catch the production at the Zabinski Music Studio inside the mammoth Hope Artiste Village, April 27-29. Reservations are available at 368-7689.

The Wilbury Group

The Wilbury Group has attracted actors from other theatre groups, moved locations from warehouse to the former Perishable Theatre space to a small space on Allens Ave. They describe themselves as “an ever-evolving collaboration of actors committed to creating the highest quality professional theatre…that is affordable and accessible…and engage, inspire and provide thought-provoking theatre for its audiences,” according to Producer Josh Short.

Their production of “Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” in September of 2010 was one of the best theatre productions I have seen. Last year they produced some great plays, including “The Lt. of Inishmore,” “Gruesome Playground Images” and “Exit the King.”

I was not a fan of their “We Won’t Pay; We Won’t Pay” or their recent production of “DiStefano on the Air,” but I applaud them for their willingness to take chances and to provide provocative theatre.

Elemental Theatre Collective

Director Alexander Platt, himself a wonderful actor who has done stunning work at Gamm and at Elemental, was one of the founders of the group in 2004, composed mostly at the time of Trinity Conservatory members of the class of 2002. They have presented an eclectic, wide-ranging array of theatre, mostly at the Perishable Theatre space. I will never forget their stunning production of “Amadeus” at Beneficent Church hall.

The Elemental Theatre Collective is presenting the world premiere of “Vacancy,” a collaboration between artistic director, Alexander Platt and founding member Save Rabinow. Platt says it “promises to be a gritty, shocking and exciting thrill ride for its 90-minute duration.”

“Vacancy” runs April 26 through May 6 at 95 Empire St., Providence. Tickets are $15. Call 447-3001 for reservations.


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