Urbanite Theatre Reveals Thought-Provoking Second Season #edgy
With the Urbanite Theatre’s stunningly successful inaugural season behind them, the Theatre’s co-founders and artistic lightning rods, Brendan Ragan and Summer Dawn Wallace (with developer Harry Lipstein), have little time for introspection or back slapping. It’s almost a case of been there, done that, now what’s next?
Eager to keep the successful mojo flowing, it wasn’t long before Ragan and Wallace had announced Urbanite’s second season(especially considering the Theatre’s successful 24hour Giving Partners Challenge which saw more than $30,000 raised), and created the usual vista of thought-proving plays, determined to make the theatre’s audiences face a range of issues that are often far from the polite point of view.
“I think the first season was a hand shake,” explained Ragan. “There was a lot of variety but it was just a taste of things to come because this season we’re going to push our audiences. We want to perform challenging work.
“We’ve had a successful year thanks to Sarasota and its audiences, but it’s too early to have a swagger. We’ll just keep holding ourselves to a high standard.”
The first play of the season, “Freak” is a homecoming of sorts as it’s written by Anna Jordan who wrote the Theatre’s inaugural play, “Chicken Shop”.
“This season we’re going to tell stories in a different way,” says Ragan. “Our first play “Freak” is a dual monologue, the actors speak directly to the audience. It’s stark, there’s no time for the audience to relax and it’s about 70 minutes long with no intermission.”
It’s a searing, heartfelt play with Summer Dawn Wallace and recent Booker High Scholl graduate Ellie McCaw both trying to explore the challenges women face trying to be sexual beings without feeling sexually exploited by men. It also marks the first time since the Urbanite’s opening Wallace has left her day-to-day duties as an administrator and walked the stage.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she laughed.
“It’s scary though,” she added. “Appearing in “Freak” is challenging from an actor’s and a personal point of view. I’m the face of the company and also an actor who thinks, ‘Am I going to suck?’ It’s a different set of pressures I’m facing from before. But I read through the script yesterday and it was exciting and a little scary, but I knew this play was for me from the very beginning.”
Wallace mentions she and Ragan are a “dynamic duo”, citing their untested management skills less than a year ago and emerging as hard-nosed entrepreneurs with a successful theatre.
“I’m thrilled to be heading into the second season,” said Wallace. “We’re growing because Brendan and I have created an intimacy between the actors and the audience in the Urbanite. It speaks to people because we deal with current issues that society has to face; we can’t hide from that and because of that Urbanite is unique and the audiences are there to watch. Urbanite is growing and I’ll take it.”
“We’re doing the here and know at the Urbanite,” added Ragan. “There was no-where to see work in Sarasota that spoke to my soul before Urbanite. Sarasota is a great town for theatre and performance, make no mistake,” he continued, “and the passion for the arts is overwhelming. But the excitement for Urbanite’s second season is palpable and the attitude for challenge is a hungry one. That’s why Urbanite, thanks to everyone’s continuing support, will always push theatrical boundaries.
“It’s been both a humbling and surprising experience,” Ragan said.
For more information about Urbanite’s 2015-1016 season, visit:
Photo of Brendan Ragan and Summer Dawn Wallace by Matthew Holler
Main Image and photo of actress Ellie McCaw by Brendan Ragan