New upcoming CO theaters play productions; sheds light on social conflicts

Drama groups seeking to create conversation and greater social awareness

Update: (Added video, comments from theater groups)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Two new local theater companies — The Deschutes Theater Company and Ellipse Theater Community — are working to create a unique footprint for themselves in the central Oregon community.

“There’s a hunger, there’s a desire for live performance,” Deschutes Theater Company actor Todd Tolces said Wednesday.

Both theater companies thrive on local, largely volunteer talent, and aim to provide thought-provoking content that explores the social conflicts experienced by diverse communities of people.

In light of their mission, The Deschutes Theater Company, founded last month, will present “Native Gardens,” written by Karen Zacarias at Open Space Studios in Bend on Friday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 5 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Outside of the event, attendees will have the chance to view artwork and have a meal at a food truck.

Ellipse Theater Community, an immersive theater that started in 2020, will also present its upcoming production “Craig Fox Had a Wife,” written by Beverly Allen at Open Space Studios. The piece highlights the struggles of PTSD that many veterans face. Theatrical performances begin on November 11 and end on November 19.

“The play is sort of the anchor or centerpiece, but we’re actually hosting two weeks of events all around discussing PTSD and the impacts of war,” said Debbie Levin, director of the community play at the Ellipse theatre.

This means a panel discussion, veterans sharing their stories and an art exhibit related to war themes.

A sea combat veteran facing PTSD and actor Aaron Rasheed balance four different roles in the play. He explained the duality in the role of a chief warrant officer.

“My character has these moments where he has to look within himself and think about the emotional side of it and be human, be humanistic, and at the same time he realizes that there’s work that needs to be done. “, Rasheed said.

Unlike the traditional performance style, the Ellipse Theater community offers roadshows or small mobile productions in central Oregon.

Still in a non-traditional way, the Deschutes Theater Company will present its performance as a theater in the round, where the audience surrounds the stage. Sue Salas, the founder of DTC, said Native Gardens highlights the serious nature behind the stereotypes, while retaining a strong comedic element.

Both companies hope to spark more conversation and understanding through their gaming performance.

“You know, seeing it from the other side,” Salas said.