One of the longest chapters in Orange County theater history comes to a close next month and, unfortunately, it ends on a sad note: After 16 years of offering the most literary-conscious collection of plays on a local stage not named South Coast Repertory, the Hunger Artists Theater Company closes in December.
Started by a group of friends who met in Orange Coast College's theater department, the theater debuted in a tiny Costa Mesa art space before moving to downtown Santa Ana for a couple of seasons and eventually winding up in Fullerton.
No reason for the closure was given in a press release sent out today today, but it's not hard to guess the principal one: not enough asses in the seats. The theater's location in an industrial park was anything but ideal and, unlike other local storefront companies, such as the Chance Theater, Maverick and Stages, the administration and performers changed multiple times over the course of its history. With the notable exception of Mark Coyan, none of its original founders were still involved with the company and perhaps the turnover took its toll.
What never suffered was the adventurous programming choices. From original pieces like Kelly Flynn's rambunctious mash-up of Noel Coward's Private Lives, White Trash Private Lives, Jason Lindner's mesmerizing The Gog and Magog Project, and its long-running Halloween bloodbath, Madame Guignol's Macabre Theatre, the company was never tentative when it came to original work. And its programming choices included playwrights like Edward Albee, Samuel Beckett and Sam Shepard, along with border-pushing fare like Marat/Sade and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
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Rag and Bone at the Hunger Artists Theatre, 699-A, S. St. College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6803. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. www.hungerartists.com.