Experimental Theatre Going Strong in Fairfield County

It’s not easy, running an experimental theater company in Fairfield County, where theater abounds.

Slant of Light

So, for Slant of Light, based in Bridgeport, it was an opportunity to foster young  actors of the future that led them to offer their services to the Fairfield Museum and Historical Center which is currently staging a new exhibition called Bravo! Celebrating a Century of Theatre in Fairfield County. You’ll know some of the theaters they’re celebrating – the Westport Country Playhouse, the White Barn Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, (alas, no more). And on November 8, SoL will be offering an improv workshop at FMHC for grades 3-5, as part of the Bravo! celebration.
Stacy Ruttenberg

Slant of Light, (www.soltheatercompany.org) based in Bridgeport, has no such illustrious history, and yet, since it was started by Stacy Ruttenberg, of Norwalk, in 2008, it is making a niche for itself in experimental and educational theater. Stacy created SoL in memory of one of the students at a children’s summer theater in Milford, where Stacy was directing, who died tragically young.
Since 2008, Slant of Light has staged three workshop productions, four main-stage shows, and one educational production which tours schools. They’ve also done 20 new play readings. These are staged in SoL’s new home, on John Street in Bridgeport. I was there last week to see the first read-through of Heels Over Head by Susan Goodell. Acted enthusiastically by a young group of actors, the play was half farce, half commentary on the many facets of modern love, and had the audience laughing. Afterwards the playwright asked for feedback from the audience, who were keen to have a chance to ask for more information or to comment on the play. If you’ve written a play, try submitting it to Stacy at SoL, who is always looking for new drama. She’ll let you know if you’re on the right track.
A recent production

SoL’s actors come from all over Fairfield and New Haven counties and sometimes from as far afield as New York City or Massachusetts. “I went to Smith College,” says Stacy, “and have a lot of contacts in western Massachusetts. So we attract writers, directors and actors from a large area, who want to practice or hone their craft, which is terrific.” The director, Valerie Austyn, hails from Texas originally, but is well-known in Westport as the former head of the Chamber of Commerce, and an executive at Citibank. “I wanted a chance to get back to my theater roots,” says Valerie, who has a degree in drama. “Directing these new plays is a joy, as well as being great fun. Sometimes I even get to act in one.”
A small company like this one, which is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is always short of money (feel free to donate something!). So Stacy found a novel way of raising money to support the next season of plays. There’s a website called Kickstarter where you can request donations for any creative project. If you make your required amount, you get to keep it – if you don’t, you lose it all.  SoL recently reached its goal of $1000 for four new projects, starting in November, so it looks as though we’ll be seeing more of them soon.

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