A week has passed since I saw the excellent Sideshow Ensemble @ Actors Bridge production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s dark comedy boom. It still has my imagination in its grasp.
Why? The troupe put on a very memorable show at the Belmont Black Box Theatre. It was a finely crafted production from Michael Redman’s museum-meets-Metropolis (as in Fritz Lang’s incredible 1927 film) set to Amanda Meador’s terrific characterization of the intensely-perky tour guide Barbara.
Meador, Redman and others who’ve been involved with Sideshow’s ten-month theatrical cross-training program – Erin Randolph, Hayley Rose, J.P. Schuffman, Julianne Snape, Kat Hanrahan, Ricardo Puerta, Jessika Malone, Jackie Johnson, and Mitch Massaro – worked wonderfully onstage and off to make the production a resounding success. That said, I think in the long run I’ll remember boom (lower case intentional) for something other than the thoroughly enjoyable presentation it was.
That’s because I’ll recall it was the moment that confirmed something I should have already acknowledged: The future of Nashville theater is bright. And that future is now.
To avoid misunderstanding, there are many artists somewhat older than members of the Sideshow ensemble who are doing incredible work now too. They will hopefully contribute their gifts to Music City stages for quite some time.
But as I look at a group like Sideshow – whose inaugural year of existence included the first annual Sideshow Fringe Festival and its acclaimed regional premiere of Will Eno’s The Flu Season – I become very excited about the theater that will be created here for decades to come. If folks like Malone, Massaro and their colleagues are this good now, just think how much richer their work will become with the passage of time.
What’s behind the emergence of these brilliant young theater practitioners? My middle-aged brain certainly can’t come close to devising all the possible answers. I do figure the wonderful opportunities offered by local public and private secondary and post-secondary institutions play a role. And though summer camps and shows do more than train future theater folks, when I see the youth outreach of Actor’s Bridge’s Act Like a Grrrl! program, Nashville Children’s Theatre, The Theater Bug, Street Theatre Company, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Amun Ra Theatre and Franklin’s Act Too Players (among others) I suspect such fine endeavors aid that development as well.
The complete answer to how we’re so fortunate to have such talented and committed emerging artists will remain a happy enigma to me. I may not completely understand how they do such a great job making us laugh, cry and consider while they entertain us, but ultimately that doesn’t matter. What does is the joyful realization that shows like boom (and the inter-arts connections of such events as the upcoming second edition of the Sideshow Fringe Festival running Aug. 2-5) will add luster to Nashville’s invigorating cultural scene well beyond this year or this decade.
For more about the Sideshow Fringe Festival please visit www.sideshowfringe.com.
*All photos courtesy Sideshow@ActorsBridge.