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 t
heater 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
, 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.
And while, unfortunately, the theater generated the most headlines for an off-site incident in 2010 involving an actor in a play that really doesn't deserve to be mentioned in detail here, what it deserves to be remembered and hailed for was 16 years of mining rich soil in the sorely under-appreciated trenches of Orange County storefront theater. Its actors, playwrights, directors and designers didn't do it for the money and there wasn't a great deal of glory in it. They did it with heart, soul, passion and the kind of tenacious determination that those who have never been part of a theater company just can't understand.
Named after a short story by Franz Kafka
, the Hunger Artists leave a bounteous legacy behind. Its last show, Noah Haidle's Rag and Bone e
nds this Sunday (it has a few rentals in December
, but no further self-generated productions). When the metaphorical curtains drop, Orange County theater will be a much lonelier place.
I mean fuck. I've written about it so often over the years that I know the address and the phone number by heart!
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.
Joel Beers has written about theater and other stuff for this infernal rag since its very first issue in, when was that again???