Small Crowds, New Spaces: An Introduction to Nu Sass Productions’ Small Batch Audience Series by Aubri O’Connor

“The audience is the most revered member of the theater. Without an audience there is no theater.” – Viola Spolin.

Aubri O'Connor.
Aubri O’Connor.

Next week sees the jump of Nu Sass Productions from a primarily Fringe-only company to the independent theatre scene in DC (Co-Producer Aubri O’Connor’s words) – but it’s a step that only a select few will get to see.

“We’re really excited for this next step” says O’Connor, “It’s like a debutante, and we want to put a really beautiful, powerful foot forward. I think this project – all of it: the play, the cast, the artists – is a solid start to a new future for Nu Sass, and I’m hoping I’ll be right!”

The Small Batch Audience Series is the brainchild of Nu Sass Productions’ producers Aubri O’Connor and Angela Kay Pirko. Partially inspired by the Tiny House Plays (Pinky Swear Productions) and Dream Within A Dream (Through the 4th Wall), the Nu Sass Producers wanted to create intimate spaces for audience to be completely immersed in the world of the play from the second they enter the building.

“We’re lucky enough to be in a space [Caos on F St] where our theatre is not just the stage on which the performance takes place, but is also the walls and the seating and even the way to the bathroom,” says O’Connor. “We’ve completely taken it over. That’s part of the challenge of this series, finding new and unconventional spaces to play in, and in turn finding new ways to perform.”

Tony Kushner.Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN.
Tony Kushner.Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN.

This full-room theatre approach not only allows the show to happen in smaller, more authentic spaces, but also develops a sense of immediacy and intimacy for both the artists and the audience. As such, the SBAS spotlights “living room plays”, or plays that will take place in a single room the entire show. Nu Sass is excited for the chance to create what they envision to be “a living room with just too many chairs”, where the audience is there with the characters, witnessing the highs and lows from the same perspective.

Nu Sass’s Small Batch Audience Series begins with their spring 2015 production of Tony Kushner’s powerful play A Bright Room Called Day, a show that draws parallels between the rise of Hitler to power in 1930s Berlin and the politics of Reagan in the 1980s, with action accompanied by mysterious visits of ghosts from the future and devils from the past. For every performance, 20 people will be invited to sit in the living room of Agnes, a leftist-leaning actress living in Berlin, and witness the story of her and her group of artistic and radical friends as they watch their world shift and darken around them with the rise of the Third Reich.

Angela Pirko. Photo by  ClintonBPhotography.
Angela Pirko. Photo by
ClintonBPhotography.

“I like intimacy in theatre,” says Angela Kay Pirko, resident director of Nu Sass Productions. “It can come in all forms – I’ve been in the balcony of a thousand seat theatre and still felt like a monologue was delivered just to me. But there’s something about seeing something with only a few others – some kind of a connection –that I find moving in a way that transgresses the usual boundaries we erect around ourselves. It becomes something not just seen, but shared.”

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A Bright Room Called Day opens Thursday, March 12, 2015 – although we’ve been told those coveted first 20 tickets are already sold out. Sales are still open for the remaining 15 performances, which are held Thursday – Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 7 pm March 12- April 5, 2015.

Tickets can be purchased onlineTickets are $20.