When Denver's acclaimed Curious Theatre Company kicks off its new season on September 1, there will be at least one big change that's not obvious onstage. The troupe will head into autumn with several new members and a new company model that Curious founder Chip Walton hopes will eventually be embraced by independent theater groups across the nation.
At the core of the new concept is an across-the-board involvement by everyone in the company, from set designers to actors to board members, and a revolving group from within the company whose work will be highlighted each season.
"Without getting bogged down in details, the real intention behind it is to make a place at the center of the organization for artists to be involved," Walton explains. "What happens in a lot of organizations is that decisions are made by staff or board members, and the artists are left on the periphery. The irony is that art is what we do -- artists are the life-blood of any vital organization. This gives us a chance to have artists involved in every important conversation and decision the organization makes.
"Having artists involved inside the organization makes both the work on and off the stage richer," he continues. "And ultimately, it's a chance to really have a new, innovative model that other theaters can look at and imagine implementing in their own communities."
Also on the Curious agenda: extending extracurricular audience-enrichment programs -- lectures, workshops, films and panels -- that the company experimented with last year. "For our company members who are not acting or directing in a season, we'll be able to provide additional platforms for them to be involved," Walton says. "It's my hope that audiences will begin to get to know these artists in an intimate way that's unprecedented."
And, of course, Walton's bubbling over with enthusiasm for the new season in general: "It's as exciting and diverse as any season we've ever had -- aesthetically, culturally, in terms of stories, in every way. And it's the perfect season to expand our company in an equally diverse way."
Without giving away too much, Walton calls the first production, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, "a crazy show. There's lots of craziness, lots of loud music, profanity.... I just want to let folks know that they can choose to opt out. It's more of an event, to be honest, than most theater productions; There's no fourth wall. For the typical theater-goer, it's unlike anything they've seen before."
Two more clues: It involves wrestling and its cast includes a bona fide Bollywood star. Visit Curious online for more details.
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