It may be cold outside, but emerging theater troupe Rogue Productions has been basking in the warmth of its production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which opened last weekend and continues its run on Friday at Riverviews Artspace.
“We chose it ironically for this time because … it's January and it's freezing,” says company cofounder Austin Joseph, who directed the production. “But also, we wanted to start the new year with just an absolutely hilarious show that just is full of energy and fun and life.”
Since Rogue Productions burst onto the scene this past May, the company has been met with enthusiasm from the arts community — even earning itself a spot as one of the top three theater companies in The Burg’s annual Best of the Burg contest after just one production.
“Caleb [Towns, the company’s co-founder] and I had high aspirations for Rogue Productions, but to see that and the effect we’re having on the Lynchburg community was very encouraging and inspiring,” Joseph says.
This early success helped the company secure a full season with its host venue, Riverviews.
Voting for our annual Best of the Burg contest ended last week, and now we’re back with the …
“We feel they’re a good match with their unorthodox way of presenting, and they're experimental,” says Kim Soerensen, executive director of the Jefferson Street space. “Riverviews is known to be out front, unique and original and so are they.”
In addition to this latest play, Rogue will also stage “Hamlet,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “A Christmas Carol,” as well as a series of improv shows — the latter two of which will mark the troupe’s transition out of exclusively Shakespearean works, says Joseph.
“As Rogue Productions, we have decided we wanted to branch out and do several other activities or events under that kind of umbrella and one of those was an improv team,” says Towns, who is part of the comedy troupe.
The improv team, called Adults with Crayons — a name that Towns says embodies the whimsy and light-hearted humor they hope to capture — won’t make its debut until Jan. 26, but the company has already embraced the madness and mayhem in “Midsummer.”
Rogue Productions’ performance will take place in four rooms, several hallways and even a stairwell over two floors inside Riverviews. It follows a promenade style of theater, where the audience stands around and walks alongside the performance as it moves throughout the building.
While Rogue chose a different kind of theatrical performance when it staged its production of “Macbeth” in promenade — during which the audience walked alongside the performance as it moved from room to room — its newest Shakespearean production will stay exclusively inside the Craddock-Terry Gallery and the audience in their seats.
That doesn’t mean the company has abandoned the idea of promenade altogether; there’s talk of staging both “Hamlet” and “A Christmas Carol” in that style, Joseph says.
“The promenade style really works for tragedy and anything that's kind of thrilling because it keeps [the] audience on edge cause they’re so involved with the performance,” he says. “For ‘Midsummer,’ it’s just one of those shows where you want to sit back, relax and have a good time.”