Out of pandemic pause, Untethered Theatre Venture took wing with recent expertise

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At first of the Untethered Theatre Venture is the phrase.

Fairly than beginning a brand new theatrical firm with outsized ambitions and full-scale productions, a quartet of Atlanta theater makers determined as a substitute to start a brand new stage endeavor by beginning small with a collection of three staged play readings at Spalding Nix Wonderful Artwork gallery.

“For us, it was extra vital to inform actually good tales as merely as we might, with some new faces, and let the textual content and the expertise of the phrase shine this primary 12 months,” stated Clifton Guterman, one of many co-founders.

The rationale the mission is named Untethered, he stated, was as a result of it’s not affiliated with another Atlanta theater nor tied to any current stage. It isn’t in competitors with current theaters both.

Michelle Rivera research her script for the one-night-only, sold-out efficiency of “A Nice Wilderness” on Monday. (Pictures by Benjamin Carr)

Guterman, Patti Siegel, Jeff Hathcoat and Courtney Moors started discussing the hassle in spring 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic had shut down most theater across the nation. 

“Within the thick of the pandemic, it felt like we had been on pause,” Moors stated. “There was solely a lot you possibly can do creatively to have the ability to join with individuals. This mission was a chance to construct one thing when nothing was occurring.”

For the primary studying, in Could, the group offered J.B. Priestley’s traditional An Inspector Calls in entrance of an intimate capability viewers of almost 50. Directed by Amelia Fischer, actors — together with Hathcoat and Moors — carried out with scripts in hand, but in addition they appeared in costume, used some props and employed some motion. 

The second sold-out studying, Samuel Hunter’s A Nice Wilderness, directed by Guterman, takes place Monday evening on the gallery. Set in current day at a homosexual conversion camp, the script facilities on Walt, the camp’s retiring chief, when the final boy in his cost goes lacking.

Untethered’s 4 co-founders have had a wide range of involvements with skilled Atlanta theaters.

Guterman works as a casting director and performing coach, but he’s been energetic in Atlanta theater as a performer, director and creative affiliate at theaters together with Theatrical Outfit, Actor’s Categorical and the Alliance since 2001. Siegel, the manager director of ArtsATL, has served on the boards of Theatrical Outfit and Synchronicity Theatre.

Hathcoat, Siegel’s son, and Moors met after transferring to Atlanta from New York in 2018 and showing collectively in Nell Gwynn at Synchronicity Theatre. They met at a becoming the place they had been each attempting on attire, Hathcoat stated, as a result of his character was a Restoration-era stage performer identified for feminine roles. Their friendship grew once they realized they’d related working kinds and style. 

Then, the pandemic hit.

“It was an unlucky collection of occasions for me and Courtney,” Hathcoat stated. “I felt like I used to be simply getting began, and issues had been on a roll. Then, immediately, everybody was ordered to go inside. We puzzled how one can begin over once we weren’t in entrance of individuals. How can we get our recent faces to Atlanta on the market and convey alongside different recent faces?”

Siegel stated the mission’s key mission is to introduce new expertise to Atlanta audiences.

“A number of months again, Clifton reached out to me on the identical time I used to be having conversations with Jeff and Courtney about producing,” Siegel stated. “As a result of they, frankly, are the mission. They’re New York actors who haven’t had the chance to get firmly established in Atlanta, principally as a result of they bought right here because the world shut down.”

Staging the works with an help from gallerist Spalding Nix has been a blessing, Siegel stated.

“He loves that we’ve bought performing arts followers coming into a visible arts house,” she stated. “It’s a pleasant intersection.”

Moors stated she was inspired by the opportunity of the mission through the pandemic.

“It was a refreshing feeling to know that, when issues come again, we don’t need to do them the best way they’ve all the time been achieved,” she stated. “We don’t need to have the identical forged of faces you all the time see. We are able to begin recent and have some scripts that haven’t been produced on this space.”

Guterman’s casting background additionally positioned him to faucet new, various expertise to take part within the readings as a result of he believes that casts ought to replicate the group. For A Nice Wilderness, a play he has favored for years, he crammed roles with many performers from the LGBTQ+ group to provide added weight to the script. He additionally employed Ian Meadows, a 13-year-old performer he met at Catapult Appearing Studios, to play the lacking camper, reasonably than placing an grownup performer who appears younger within the half.

Scripts of their laps, Beth Becka and Charles Inexperienced work by way of a rehearsal of “A Nice Wilderness.”

Throughout a rehearsal this previous weekend, actors learn the script collectively for the primary time. With books in hand, they grew to become emotional as they labored by way of the traces.

Enjoying a ranger, Gara Coffey was moved to tears throughout one monologue her character needed to ship, the place the character stated one thing complimentary to the conversion camp chief Walt, performed by Charles Inexperienced, which was opposite to how the performer herself feels in regards to the apply.

“I wasn’t certain that it could occur as I learn by way of the play alone, but it surely hit me whereas I used to be studying it with others,” she stated. “Let me get this emotion out now.”

Michelle Rivera, taking part in the lacking boy’s mom, stated she repeatedly seemed to Meadows whereas studying her half to attach emotionally together with her function.

“I like this course of as a result of it’s about staying open to every little thing that everybody is providing you with,” she stated. “It’s about connection. For me, being a mother helps quite a bit. I really feel my character’s ache.”

Choosing scripts for the studying collection was a collaborative course of among the many co-founders, and so they ended up with Inspector set previously, and Wilderness set within the current. The third script, C.A. Johnson’s Thirst, to be directed by Cynthia D. Barker on September 19, takes place in a dystopian future.

“The extra we bought it right down to the three we’re at, we actually needed to have a thematic throughline,” Siegel stated. “Popping out of the pandemic, it was actually vital to us that we reinforce to the viewers that, now greater than ever, if we’re going to outlive as humankind, we now have to deal with one another.”

Future productions from Untethered Theatre Venture have but to be decided. The co-founders are open to development, but the method of staging readings has been rewarding by itself.

“What I’ve beloved about what we’ve achieved is simply assembly new people,” Siegel stated. “It’s been gratifying to me. We now have some Atlanta veterans, but we now have new faces. I’m excited to see the breadth of [talent] we’re in a position to introduce audiences to by way of our readings.”


Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His performs have been produced at The Winery Theatre in Manhattan, as a part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Quick Play Pageant, and the Heart for Puppetry Arts. His novel Impacted was printed by The Story Plant in 2021.


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