In this, my occasional series on L.A.-based-theater-companies-that-produce-infrequently-but-would-produce-more-if-they-had-the-space-or-the-means, I give you… gosh…any number of companies, really. Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Deaf West, Theatre Tribe.
InterACT Theatre Co. which, as fate would have it, has a play up and running as we speak, directed by one of their veteran company members and staring another (OK, the two are married and frequently work together professionally).
The L.A. premiere of “Benched,” directed by Anita Khanzadian and featuring Eddie Jones, John Towey, Kelly Lohman and Matt Fowler, plays through March 24 at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood. The NoHo location is significant because it is part of InterACT’s mission – and their hope – to serve that community as well as the greater L.A. theater-going public.
Also coming back for one performance only is company member Stephanie Satie’s solo show “Silent Witnesses” which will be part of Solofest at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.
After that, InterACT has nothing on the calendar. Oh, they WILL be back, producing off and on and somewhat nomadically as they have done for 21 years. Make that 23 years if you count those early weekly play readings organized by Barry Heims who assembled his transplanted New York actor friends to get together and created the Interact Actors Collective. InterACT has been filling seats from that first stage reading of “King Lear” at the former Theater Exchange building on Hart Street to four years on Bakman Avenue to the present day when productions are staged maybe once or twice a year at spaces around the city. Spaces like the Matrix (“Urinetown” in 2007), the Victory Theatre Center (“ Actor Under Fire”) and the NoHo Arts Center (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,”2010).
The company website says InterACT’s long term goal is “to find and purchase its own theater, and in the meantime continue to produce its plays at Noho, as well as to present its regular events, the Interact Reading Series, InterACTivity, and InterPlay.” Those latter few goals seem easily achieved.
But “finding and purchasing its own theater?” A laudable aim, certainly, but I have to wonder how that happens after 20+ years of renting and roving and given how infrequently InterAct produces.
Make no mistake, the quality of the productions is usually top drawer. InterACT has bagged all sorts of L.A. theater awards over the years. Look at the company roster and you’ll see a solid lineup of working actors, most of whom work primarily on stage. Among them, you have a Tony winner in John Rubinstein and Emily Deschanel who has been playing the title character on “Bones” since 2005. Long before she was “The New Girl” and a budding film star, Emily’s kid sis Zooey – not a company member - played Little Red Riding Hood in an InterACT staging of “Into the Woods.” If Zooey Deschanel were ever to take the stage for InterACT again in absolutely anything (yeah, I know, fat chance), the run would sell out in 15 minutes. Or maybe she should do a benefit concert with funds earmarked for the new digs whenever they find it. Maybe another company member hits it big and cuts a big check. Maybe there are InterACT angels just waiting for the day that space is found before they swoop in and help the company stabilize in its new digs.
Of course it’s entirely possible that, website message to the contrary, the InterACT administration is perfectly happy being permanent venue-less and producing irregularly. Speaking as one who has seen and largely enjoyed probably a dozen InterACT shows over the years, I wish the company would find a way settle in and do a subscription series.
For now, we have two InterAct shows. “Benched,” finds Eddie Jones as a curmudgeonly senior citizen named Max who finds his favorite Central Park bench occupied by a stranger, a disruptive and potentially game-changing occurrence for Max. ”Silent Witnesses” has writer/performer Satie playing four women, all childhood survivors of the Holocaust, who share their stories as a celebration of the human spirit.
“Benched” plays 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun.; through March 24 at the Avery Schreiber Theatre11050 Magnolia Blvd. NoHo. www.interactla.org or (818) 765-8732
“Silent Witnesses” plays Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks as part of Solofest. http://www.whitefiretheatre.com/Solofest_2013.html.