Twenty-Something Theatre: Giving young talent a chance
February 14, 2011 by Meagan Gill
Twenty-Something Theatre can be described as edgy, cool, provocative and definitely not your grandma’s theatre. At least, that’s what Sabrina Evertt says.
Evertt is the founder and artistic producer of the independent theatre company Twenty-Something Theatre. She describes the content and dialogue of their productions as realistic.
“It’s the kind of thing you would see or speak on the street. People see themselves in that and they can relate to it,” she says.
Productions are generally geared to 18- to 35-year-olds, with scripts that speak to the younger generation. “The transition from being a young adult in school, to real life, finding a job, finding purpose and finding love; all of those kind of things, like finding out who you are and what you want to do, are what a lot of our plays are about,” says Evertt.
Her passion for theatre started when she was around 16. All of her friends were in the drama club, so she decided to try it out. She was cast in one of the productions and she was hooked. “I think a lot of people who do theatre have a need to do it. I think you just kind of get hooked and it’s in you and you have to do it,” she says.
After high school, Evertt attended UVic and got a BFA in theatre. She says one of her biggest influences were her high school drama and improv teachers and college professors. “They helped me keep going and shaped what I wanted to do. They all just really encouraged me,” she says.
Evertt has many productions on her resumé, including both producing and directing Blue Surge, The Fever, Anne Frank Is In My Dreams, Suburbia, The Shape of Things and others. Not only is she a producer and a director, but she is also a costume designer. “I guess I’ve always had a flair for fashion and clothing”, she says. She has done the costume design for productions that include Werewolves, Hamlet, As You Like It, Banana Boys and Stuff Happens.
Currently, she is producing and directing the play Nocturne, written by Adam Rapp and featuring Troy Anthony Young. Nocturne is a one-man play, around 80 pages long, and Young has quite the challenge. It’s about a man’s journey to find closure and redemption after causing an accident that tore his family apart.
Young started acting when his mother enrolled him in drama classes almost against his will. Soon, he realized he enjoyed it. “You know how most people spend time in their lives just trying to find that one thing that makes them feel right about themselves? That’s what is was for me,” says Young.
Young always hoped that one day Evertt would find a play that he could have a part in, but he didn’t expect it would be in this one and, after four years of waiting, he finally got the chance to work with her. Despite the challenges, he says it’s rewarding.
“The things I’ve seen Sabrina direct before has always been really really challenging theatre. Things you don’t see a lot of in this city. She doesn’t hire the actors you see on stage everywhere else, she gives a break to some people and gets some of the most amazing performances on stage I’ve ever seen,” said Young.
Young describes Evertt as supportive and one of the hardest working people he knows. “She could have moved to New York City and by now probably have an off-Broadway company running in the amount of time that she’s been running Twenty-Something Theatre. And she’s chosen to stay here in Vancouver, and give us a chance to get on stage and promote the people here and I think that’s one of the most honourable things in the world,” he says.
Evertt started Twenty-Something Theatre to give young actors and designers the opportunity to have careers in theatre. “I would also love to be able to financially support young people as well, as opposed to just giving them a opportunities to gain exposure,” she says.
As an independent theatre company, there are challenges.
One of the major issues facing independent theatre companies is being able to find the funding to put on the production. As a producer, that’s what Evertt spends most of her time doing. “It’s also difficult to get audiences out to see your shows, especially when your competing in this culture with TV and movies and computers and music. There’s so many options for young people,” she says.
Evertt describes Vancouver’s theatre scene as small in comparison to other places, so therefore, it’s relatively young. She mentions the big three: the Arts Club, the Playhouse and the Bard on the Beach festival. Other then that, she says, you’ve got the independent theatre companies who have been around for awhile, such as Pi Theatre, Neworld Theatre and the Electric Company Theatre.
Evertt says she would like to see Vancouver’s theatre scene take bigger risks in the material they produce. “I think that you take certain risks by incorporating technology, and that’s very interesting and that’s very different but it’s more focused on innovation and that kind of thing,” Evertt says. “I would like to see people return to telling stories, but then taking risks with those stories, like pushing boundaries and discussing topics that are relevant to today,” she says.
To learn more about Twenty-Something Theatre, visit the theatre company’s website.