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Feature: A Public Fit - Unapologetically Theatrical

Feature: A Public Fit - Unapologetically Theatrical
Coco Lane Rigbye (foreground), Jake Staley, Andrew Calvert and Betsy Norton in APF's Things I Know To Be True.

This critic reviewed A Public Fit's dazzling spring production of Things I Know To Be True. I spent the past two months directing a show in Las Vegas but wasn't able to see Public Fit's most recent offering. Luckily, APF's founding artistic director took the time to illuminate her goals and answer a few questions.

Ann-Marie Pereth: A Public Fit Theatre Company exists because while I was finishing up graduate school at UNLV, I often found myself engaged in conversation with my peers as we planned our artistic futures. Each and every one of the members of my class had eyes on New York or Los Angeles or Chicago in order to pursue the craft that we were all feverishly developing. In fact, I am the only member of my MFA class to remain in Las Vegas. For my friends, peers, and colleagues, Las Vegas wasn't even an option; there was no theatrical infrastructure here to justify the hope of making a living solely by working on the stage. (Unless, of course, you could bend your body like Gumby or juggle 14 flaming swords while balancing on the tip of a pool cue.) I founded APF with the starry-eyed hope that someday I would be able to helm a company that paid its artists a living wage. In the "entertainment capital of the world", this did not seem to be completely out of the realm of possibility.

Jeanmarie Simpson: What are your aspirations for the future of A Public Fit? Do you hope to grow into a LORT theatre or a non-union equivalent, or do you want to deepen as an indie theatre?

AP: It is our dream at APF to eventually maintain a reasonably-sized staff of performers and designers whose sole job is to create, adapt, devise, teach and produce theatre. Whether this is as a LORT or, as you suggest, a non-union equivalent - to me, the label is not nearly as important as the product. When we were first organizing, the founders of APF often referenced companies like Steppenwolf, Lookingglass Theatre, and The Wooster Group - not so much for their aesthetic as for their established brand. I feel that the artistic soil of Las Vegas is rich enough to support the growth and development of such a company.

Since our founding in 2014, A Public Fit has produced 32 staged readings and 19 fully-realized productions. Our second full-scale production, A Summons from the Tinker to Assemble the Membership in Secret at the Usual Place, was an original work based upon the 1930 Fritz Lang film M. It was also one of our most popular, oft-mentioned productions to date, and became the inspiration for the name of our former space: The Usual Place. I try to select what I consider to be "over-looked" plays - exceptional scripts that may not catch the attention of other Las Vegas producers. We tend towards the dramatic, but are always drawn towards the unapologetically theatrical - plays that we can talk about with our audiences. As you know, part of our company's brand is The Buzz, the moderated discussion that follows each and every performance of each and every production that we do.

JS: Can you unpack the term, "unapologetically theatrical" ?

AP: I often use the word "theatrical" as a shorthand to describe any number of nonrealistic on-stage moments expressed utilizing any number of tools - the use of symbols, experimental language, music, song, acrobatics, dance, elements of fantasy, minimal props, breaking the fourth wall, dynamic lighting etc. These are some of the devices I have used over the years to create a heightened sense of storytelling that, ideally, taps into the audience's sense of the abstract or their active subconscious thinking.

JS: Do you and your company plan to incubate and/or develop new works?

AP: We certainly plan to devise and produce "new works" in the not-too-distant future; a number of concepts are already in the early stages of development - too early, in fact, to reveal anything at all about them!

Visit APF's website for upcoming shows and other information.




From This Author - Jeanmarie Simpson

Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop has been a BWW contributor in Tucson, Reno/Sacramento, and Toronto, Las Vegas and Phoenix, where she is arti... (read more about this author)


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