WeHo’s Rogue Artists Offer Digital ‘New Play’ Showcase

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The award-winning artists’ collective Rogue Artists Ensemble, supported by the city of West Hollywood, announces a digital showcase of its 2020 Rogue Lab New Play Incubator plays-in-progress: “Rogue Lab Nano Projects.”

Audiences can view short surreal snippets, readings, puppet demonstrations and a play that unfurls through an Instagram feed, getting a unique view into the Rogue new play development process.

The Rogue Lab Nano Projects can be viewed now through December 2020 at Rogue and on the Rogue Artists Ensemble YouTube channel.

Nano Projects replaces the previously scheduled Rogue Lab Reading Series, which would have presented full in-person readings of the six new plays in May of this year — a pivot in programming made due to necessary stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles.

“We began brainstorming alternative ways to keep building the universes of these new plays without forcing them to fit into one presentational box, Zoom or otherwise,” says Rogue Lab co-director Chelsea Sutton. “We wanted the artistic teams to play and explore and allow time for discovery, rather than forcing a push toward a final product.”

“Each play in this cohort unique and ambitious in its scope,” explains co-director Lisa Sanaye Dring. “By creating a safe space to invite a larger audience in, we’re able to give these plays more air in which to thrive and create conversations around the work and the process, even when we can’t be together.”

The new plays include: Penny’s Puppet Hour, a surreal comedy about a public access television show written by Chelsea Sutton and directed by Hannah Wolf, with sound design by Jesse Mandapat; Shells, a dark comedy about coping with the afterbirth of gun violence, written by Amy Judd Lieberman and directed by Dylan Southard, with puppet design by Mark RoystonOystersa drama exploring the life of an artist and the destructive byproduct of her latest creation, written by Carissa Atallah and directed by Keiana Richard, with video and sound design by Jack PullmanThe Reckless Sea of the Brainabout a woman who finds herself strolling the abyss of a mental breakdown, written by Mady Schutzman and directed by Sonia Norris, with puppet design by Morgan RebaneWind Phone, about people calling the dead at a deserted phone booth in the desert, written by Bernardo Solano and directed by BJ Dodge, with video and sound design by Corwin Evans; and Los Bastardos, a play about identity and language, written by Mercedes Floresislas and directed by Andy Lowe, with puppet design by Joshua Rivas.

The Rogue Lab was created in 2018 as an incubator for new work that stretches the boundary of what is currently being done onstage, including immersive experiences, interactive design, puppet plays and genre-bending pieces that fit within the Rogues’ Hyper-theater aesthetic. The Lab is a 9-month residency in which playwrights create brand new plays from the ground up while collaborating with a designer, composer, or choreographer in order to incorporate the knowledge of their specific theatrical magic into the DNA of the new play.

Rogue Artists Ensemble differs from other theater companies in that it’s run by a collective of multidisciplinary artists and designers rather than by actors, writers or directors. By combining ancient storytelling techniques (music, dance, masks, puppetry) with modern technology (digital media, special effects and theatrical illusions), the Rogues cultivate a unique style of live performance unlike any other. They define the combined use of these and other underrepresented art forms as “Hyper-theater.”

Since 2002, the Rogues have created nearly 20 original new works and collaborated with hundreds of artists and community members. Past Rogue Artists Ensemble Hyper-theatrical productions include Zen Shorts, adapted from the book by Jon J. Muth, last seen in Tears of Joy Theatre and the Pasadena Playhouse; D is for Dog, produced at South Coast Repertory and designated one of the top-rated productions of 2011 by Bitter Lemons; Gogol Project, adapted by Kitty Felde from three Gogol short stories (Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice”; Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for adaptation and design; LA Weekly Award for design), the Ovation Award-winning Wood Boy Dog Fish, a macabre reimagining of The Adventures of Pinocchio, recently remounted in the Inaugural season at the Garry Marshall Theatre in 2018; and most recently the large scale immersive project Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta, commissioned by the City of West Hollywood.

“Rogue Lab Nano Projects” is presented with support by the City of West Hollywood.

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