Fans of Oscar Wilde will be treated to The Importance of Being Earnest in two livestream performances by Virtual Repertory Theatre Collective on Zoom May 8 and 9, 2021. The new company, founded last December, promises “twists, fabulous backgrounds and of course, romance.”
“One of our favorite things in working with scripts that are considered theatrical classics,” said Kari Kitts, artistic director, “is that we always find a way to bring contemporary views to our characters while still honoring the piece. We’ve aimed to take these, in some cases, extremely outdated views of women, portrayals of relationship and gender and give them a VRTC update. We pride ourselves on being a female-friendly environment and integrating our progressive ideas with our artistic work.”
“While it’s perfectly easy to be cynical after more than a year indoors,” said Mitch Macdonald, co-director, “VRTC invites the question ‘What if we were all just a little more earnest with the ones we love?’ The humor and charm of this classic story are terrific restoratives for a world-weary spirit.”
The show features performances by Mitch Macdonald, Kari Kitts, Jason Dollar, Elizabeth A. Weiss, Amy Conley, Abby Goldbloom-Helzner, and Fred Cremer and is co-directed by Kari Kitts and Mitch Macdonald.
“I wanted to give actors the chance to have a real creative say and not spend the prime of their career playing bit parts.”
The Virtual Repertory Theatre Collective—a fully virtual, bicoastal theater company—was founded on December 29, 2020, to provide a safe place for performers to work, to empower actors with creative input, and to use the new technology tools to deliver art to the people. VRTC aims to challenge the status quo for what it means to be a theater, how actors choose their work, and what theater in the 21st century looks like.
Founding Artistic Director Kari Kitts explains:
Both Mitch Macdonald and I are locals and we have two more DC locals in our production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
I started the company after I started acting again after a long hiatus during the pandemic. I did some virtual readings with the Sterling Playmakers (where I met Mitch), then I was cast in the Fauquier Community Theatre production of It’s a Wonderful Life, which led to being cast in another production of It’s a Wonderful Life. at Bakersfield [California] Community Theatre. Three of our company members came from that production.
When It’s a Wonderful Life closed I decided within two days to start my own company. I knew that I wanted to continue making theater and being able to connect with actors all over the country and maybe even the world. So I reached out to people with my vision for the collective.
Part of the reason that I started the collective was not only that I wanted to connect with other actors; I wanted to have more control over the kinds of parts that I would get. I wanted to make sure that I would get to do work that challenges me and our core company members and that we would have principal work whenever we wanted it.
We do a show every six weeks and each year every company member gets to pick a show, cast themselves in any part they wish, and co-direct the show. I wanted to give actors the chance to have a real creative say in the kind of work that they did and not just spend the prime of their career playing bit or extra parts.
We do cast actors who are not company members and that does enhance the work that we do, but the core of our company has a covenant to invest and support each other first as artists and then extend to the theater community at large.
Our plans for the future are to continue to be a fully virtual, bicoastal theater company, even post-pandemic. There are many places all over the country that have limited access to theater and we can be anywhere that anyone has an internet connection. Over our three shows so far, we have audience members who have become regulars come from Atlanta, Chicago, LA, and the UK.
Our first production was Romeo and Juliet on Valentine’s Day weekend, and we’ve also hosted a benefit speaking for women in the arts, speaking out against violence toward women in artistic communities, something that women in our company have experienced.
We have a full season planned for the year featuring full-length, well-known plays; those make up our mainstage fare. But we are also doing original material, newer shows from other artists, and having a one-acts festival.
None of us have ever physically met but we have bonded so deeply creating this special new kind of theater and we’re very excited about the future.