BWW Previews: ON THE VERGE FESTIVAL at CAW: Community Arts Workshop

By now, no doubt, you're familiar with the On The Verge Festival, Santa Barbara's mid-summer theatre bonanza. In its third year, this funky, DIY theatre company brings a diverse collective of young artists together for community building, artistic exploration, and a celebration of arts and culture. Built into the Community Arts Workshop warehouse space at Garden and Ortega streets, On The Verge is unlike anything else in the Santa Barbara theatre scene. Rooted in a fearless, purposeful approach to bridging the gap between artist and art appreciator, OTV incorporates work from up-and-coming visual artists, musicians, and theatre makers, with a focus on community engagement.

On The Verge insists on theatrical accessibility, both in cost and in content, and they bring a gritty, theatre-is-for-everyone point of view to the stage. OTV offers seven productions, community classes, and a general atmosphere of excitement and inclusion. All tickets are 10$ for the day,(students are free with promo code: STUDENT), meaning you can see up to three plays for almost nothing. Audiences are encouraged to enjoy the festival space, where there's wine, beer, and live music between shows.

The Plays:

At The Table
By Michael Perlman
Directed by Kate Bergstrom

Identity politics provide an intricate pattern in our social fabric. As illustrated in At the Table, Michael Perlman's Jeff-award-winning play, even close friends might harbor assumptions, prejudices, and misunderstandings about those they think they know best. A group of friends meets in a cabin, away from the congestion of the big city. Escaping the clamor of the urban atmosphere allows them to participate in real conversation--listening to authentic points of view from their friends, and grasping the opportunity to reconsider problematic perceptions. These challenging dialogues create distance initially, but the characters seek to grow into the gaps by embracing each others' true selves. Director Kate Bergstrom calls the piece a "melting pot of different voices," one that represents privilege, feminism, and a variety of cultural heritages.

BWW Previews: ON THE VERGE FESTIVAL at CAW: Community Arts Workshop
Photo by Andy Cowell

At The Table:

8/3 7 p.m.
8/5 7 p.m.
8/10 7 p.m.
8/12 5 p.m.
8/13 7 p.m.


A Likely Pair
By Julia Izumi
Directed by Samantha Eve

A Likely Pair is a compelling and bizarre view of toxic relationships and their effects on peripheral characters. This deeply metaphoric tale of vices, addictions, and poisons plays out in a dreamlike universe of lovers and villains. Be sure to check out the wall mural, painted by collaborating artist Caroline Hambright. "It's not a traditional theatre space," says director Samantha Eve, "so why try to make it that way?"

BWW Previews: ON THE VERGE FESTIVAL at CAW: Community Arts Workshop
Photo by Josiah Davis

A Likely Pair

8/4 7 p.m.
8/6 7 p.m.
8/9 7 p.m.
8/11 5 p.m.
8/12 7 p.m.


By Thais Francis
Directed by Josiah Davis

A play about the African American experience, Outcry features characterizations of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, and Sean Bell. But director Josiah Davis wants to be clear: Outcry isn't foremost a play about police brutality--there are no guns, no officers--instead, he considers Outcry theatre that celebrates the African-American experience and gives a relatable face to the people whose untimely deaths became iconic of American prejudice. Says Davis: "It's a collision of all their experiences...This play reexamines these cases and humanizes these characters, because that's what it takes to make a difference--[for audiences] to see these people as human."

Outcry incorporates live music (by LA musician, Tolliver) and dance to, as Davis says, "open up the relationship between the audience and the subject matter." The production intends to create a dynamic theatric experience by placing these figures, who share similar experiences in different points in history, in one storyline. "It's a subject that's bigger than just America," says Davis. "I took a trip to Ghana... you can really see the history of how we got here as black people in America. Africans were shipped across the ocean--the endurance to last until now is all embedded in the play...[Outcry] explores the culture of Africa, the music of Africa. It explores the entire diaspora...People live a specific truth, and it's fantastic to bring something this big and potent to the space."

BWW Previews: ON THE VERGE FESTIVAL at CAW: Community Arts Workshop
Photo by Josiah Davis/Matthew Goldshall

By Thais Francis
Directed by Josiah Davis
Music by Tolliver

8/4 8 p.m.
8/6 8 p.m.
8/8 8 p.m.
8/9 8 p.m.
8/12 8 p.m.


On The Verge has also partnered with Launch Pad, UCSB's new-works reading series, to present Declan Hughes' Meanwhile There Are Letters. OTV will also present back-to-back shorts, Femfest: Talkback (by Maggie Yates, directed by Katie Williams), and Peanutbutterjellybagelcreamcheese, written and performed By Danielle Draper and Lindsey Twigg. In Talkback, a journalist and a fangirl face off at a feminism convention over the importance of shameless reality star, Farraleigh Webster--in the midst of Farraleigh's audience talkback. PBJBCC is a comedic look at love and heartache as hashed out by the two sides of one brain: the analytical left-brain and the intuitive right-brain.

Launch Pad's Meanwhile There Are Letters
By Declan Hughes

8/11 7 p.m.


Summer Shorts:
Femfest: Talkback by Maggie Yates, Directed Katie Williams
PeanutButterJellyBagelCreamCheese by Danielle Draper and Lindsey Twigg

8/5 5 p.m.
8/6 5 p.m.
8/13 5 p.m.


...And that ain't all. OTV also offers free yoga classes to the community on Saturday and Sunday mornings, 10 a.m. at CAW.

OTV emphasizes theatre that begets discussion, without losing the levity of a celebration of arts and culture. Says Bergstrom: "We want to make people feel like they came to an event, not just a play ... we want people to come to the festival to engage in music, and art, and libations, and some amazing plays...These plays were chosen because they bring an element of presence to the theatre, and bring conversations that are necessary and important in the community."

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