Yellow Springs Theater Company

New company of professionals pushes theatrical boundaries

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: The Yellow Springs Theater Company rehearses D’Arc Comedy by wanda Strukus

With a belief that theater can enrich the soul, challenge the mind and expand the heart of the diverse community in which it serves, the Yellow Springs Theater Company is committed to producing new and classic works of theater which fearlessly examine and illuminate the human condition: past, present and future.   

This mission statement, crafted by a group of about 20 thespians, charts a new course in the Yellow Springs theatrical arena. While Center Stage, Yellow Springs’ original community theater troupe, is meant to incorporate anyone with an interest in theater, the Yellow Springs Theater Company (YSTC) is giving those with a previous background the chance to go deeper.

“Center Stage plays a really important role in Yellow Springs – it’s an advent to get into theatre,” YSTC Artistic Director Lorrie Sparrow said. “But we work with a company of artists who already have a background in theatre.”

That background ranges from achieving theater degrees, producing Broadway plays, marketing for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, acting in Chicago’s underground theatre movement, working in opera globally and being a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.

“We’re very excited about it,” member Thor Sage said “We’ve got a core group of talented, dedicated people.”

It was through Center Stage all these people started talking. For the past couple of years, several of the performers who have “big people jobs,” as Sparrow jokingly referred to it, but had studied or worked with professional theatre in the past, would talk about forming an actual company. It was all just talk, though, until a “postmortem” on the Center Stage 2013 fall show “Threepenny Opera” – that’s when Sparrow said they realized, “we wanted to do this.”

They drafted a mission statement and core values, gauged interest and started searching for plays.

“As member Ali Thomas said, ‘let’s not read it, let’s do. We’re always better when we just do,’” Sparrow recalled.

The first play they “just did” was “D’Arc Comedy” by Wanda Strukus, a tale of Joan of Arc featuring saints, juggling, puppets and fire. As the name entails, there was plenty of dark and offbeat comedy.

“It’s a really fun play,” Sparrow said.

“D’Arc” is just one of several shows that follow the theme of faith for YSTC’s inaugural season. The theme, much like the company itself, was organic in nature after the suggested plays and musicals were put on the table. Coming this year is “Killers,” a comedic drama written by Sage that explores the nature of humanity and faith, the musical “Godspell,” and the drama “Inherit the Wind.” YSTC will also sponsor the 10-minute Play Festival, which was previously hosted by Center Stage and was transferred to YSTC with Center Stage’s blessings.

“We want to do theater that challenges, excites, entertains and pushes the boundaries,” Sparrow said.

And theater without a hefty price tag, too.

“There’s no money, no space, so we want to do it as simple and easy as we can, but still want to present quality work,” Sparrow said.

Antioch College donated the use of their ampitheatre for “D’arc Comedy,” another business gifted YTSC with a spotlight and many funds came directly from the pockets of the members. Several of the playwrights donated the royalties for their shows, and the box office income from “D’Arc” covered basic expenses. Sparrow noted it was important for YTSC to create a financially viable model – to never move over a budget that couldn’t cover the show.

“We do look at fiscal responsibility,” Sparrow said. “We asked, ‘How can we build this theatre intelligently?’”

Sparrow and the YTSC members appreciate the support of the Yellow Springs community. From audience seats to word of mouth and marketing support, the village is coming behind this new company.

“It’s like they’re telling us, ‘yeah, we like this baby. Keep this baby,’” Sparrow said. 

For more information and upcoming shows, please call 937.546.6911 or visit the Yellow Springs Theater Company Facebook page.

Reach DCP freelance writer Joyell Nevins at JoyellNevins@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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