A new theater trio has come to S.D.

By Eva Trieger

Eva Trieger

SAN DIEGO — What do you get when you combine a fabulous writer, a few brilliant directors and amazing actors?  A theater company called The Roustabouts that promises to deliver the best our town has to offer. The theme of this new troupe is “an explosion of ideas.  We want to inspire people to take that next step.”  Through great stories, characters and journeys, this nascent group wants audiences to realize, “I could start that book. I could leave that husband. I can live that life!”  The aim is to bring some comedy and light into our lives at a time when things aren’t very light.

I caught up with Phil Johnson, a nationally recognized actor and writer, via telephone, and plied him with questions about this new company and their first season.  Johnson has a long and intimate history with many stages in San Diego and has also done time in New York.  A year ago a conversation began with three talented friends.  They shared a vision and met weekly to see how it might develop. Now Johnson, and fellow artists, Will Cooper and Ruff Yeager, have launched their own company.  The Roustabouts will bring us three shows, featuring direction by Rosina Reynolds, David Ellenstein and a newcomer, Rachel Hastings, to deliver reimagined great classics and new works.

Johnson described the goodness of fit among the three founders.  The trio complements each other and each has a unique strength to bring to the synergistic relationship.  Cooper has been writing plays for two decades.  Yeager has been producing and directing shows for some time, and Johnson has acted on countless stages in California, New York City and beyond.

For their maiden voyage, The Roustabouts are using available theater space around town. The group is currently like a vagabond gypsy, borrowing space from San Diego Rep and Diversionary Theaters.   I asked Johnson if this is problematic, but was encouraged to hear that the San Diego theater community is small and supportive.  Eventually, The Roustabouts may want their own venue, but for now, they are elated to be performing in welcoming spaces.

The three shows for this season are Margin of Error by Will Cooper and featuring Ruff Yeager, Withering Heights, written and performed by Phil Johnson & Omri Schein, and The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by Peabody Award winner Jane Wagner and featuring gifted actress, Monique Gaffney..

The Roustabouts is committed to marrying the best of all San Diego has to offer, and this holds true for costume designer, stage managers, set designers, directors, and actors. With this goal of aggregating the best talents and stories, Johnson assured me that the group is looking for superior local talent, and wants to give our home-grown writers,  actors and directors an opportunity to strut their stuff.

The Roustabouts’ goal is to give the audience something they can take home with them: a fresh new take on an older idea.  The trio doesn’t want you to leave the theater with a contented smile, but to go home and hash it out or extrapolate actions from the stage.  Question what you observed and figure out how to make it your own.  Ultimately, The Roustabouts wants to empower you to be bold and make those difficult choices because you know it’s what you need to do.

Check out the website www.theroustabouts.org , or by phone at (619) 728-7820.

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Trieger is a freelance writer who specializes in coverage of the arts.  She may be contacted via [email protected]

 

 

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