The seedlings of the new Root Theatre Company in Redding are an intriging trio of men — an excellent director, actor and promoter. Robert Soffian, Dean Williams and Mike Flanagan share a passion for cutting-edge theater and they’re gathering others who feel the same.
And although The Root may have its roots in Redding, the company will branch off with productions in other cities. The company opens its first show, “The Scene,” on Thursday at the Blue Room Theatre (139 West St.) in Chico. The play will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 9-11).
(From left:) Alex Casavant, James Hutchison and Mark Teeter in a scene from “The Scene.”
“The Scene,” by playwright Theresa Rebeck, started as a Shasta College production and director Soffian is utilizing the same cast (Alex Casavant, James Hutchison, Mark Teeter and Jaridann Williams) for the show at the Blue Room. Soffian has re-blocked and re-organized the show quite a bit, he says. The play is darker in spots, but also funnier.
I thought “The Scene” was a strong show at Shasta, but Soffian believes it’s even better now. If you’ve not seen a show at the Blue Room (which I have not), this might be a good excuse to scoot off to Chico to see how the Redding cast and crew are received in our sister city.
Although The Root plans to do shows in Redding, taking productions on the road is a priority for the company. The Root founders want other communities to see the high level of theater that can be produced out of Redding. They also understand the concept that successfully touring a show sometimes lends credence to audiences at home. No matter how much good work you’ve done at home, it’s sometimes hard to break a certain stigma.
As The Root gathers new members, it asks them to sign a credo that expresses that: “I hereby pledge to protect and defend all high-caliber manifestations of real artistic expression in deed, image, action and word, irrespective of my personal ideology, politics, religion, creed, gender, ethnicity, etc.”
The credo goes on, but I’ll cut to the chase with my view: These Root folks don’t want to be constricted as they pursue their version of high-caliber theater. For better or worse, there are limitations to what can be performed at Shasta College and Riverfront. The Root founders are simply stating that THEY will decide their own parameters. If you’re comfortable with that, sign off on the credo, send in your $10 and join them.
The founders are calling it: “an alliance of artists — actors, directors, designers, writers and musicians — providing a vital and unique theater experience.” Works for me.
After this weekend’s show, the next production by The Root will be Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” on May 28-30 and June 4-6 at the 1078 Gallery in Chico.
I look forward to following the progression of this Root system. Here’s to finding a lot fertile artistic soil.
Here’s a radio spot from “The Scene.”