It’s also home to the Elemental Theatre Collective (ETC), which is the kind of company that’s very dear to me. And not just because one of their founding members, Dave Rabinow, was once upon a time in an Improv group with me back in Massachusetts. (It was called Grand Malarkey…of course.)
It’s because they’re successful, innovative, and a magnet for young audiences.
A few years ago, I watched a panel of theatre big wigs at the Humana Festival discuss how companies can attract repeat audiences. My favorite comment, which got far too little attention, was from now Festival Co-chair Sean Daniels, who said, essentially “people can be drawn to theatre companies the way they can be drawn to a sports team.” Ensemble-driven theatre, done right, can create brand loyalty. You see this at Dad’s Garage, The Neo-Futurists, Gnap! in Austin, The Des Moines Social Club, and you only have to look at ETC’s website to see that they belong in this category.
Thanks to the help of our Secretary of Research, Evan Hanover, ETC has chosen John Tyler, who has a great Rhode Island connection. In Evan’s words “Under Tyler, Rhode Island went through some volatile times, when in 1841 a man named Thomas Wilson Dorr, led Dorr’s Rebellion.” And he also added, “Tyler’s grandson is still alive and recently called Newt Gingrich a big jerk.”
In their words “ETC is committed to producing affordable new work that surprises, challenges, and excites their audiences and artists and is forbidden by federal tax law from calling Newt Gingrich anything specifically. We hope 44 Plays for 44 Presidents does all of the above, including letting the world know that Newt Gingrich is, in fact, a big jerk.”
Welcome aboard ETC!