Rogue Productions is a new organization created by theatre students to create student written, directed, and performed theatrical pieces, often diving into the realm of devised theatre. I caught up with Kori Whitby to see how their first semester went
Robert: Do you want to tell us who you are and what you do?
Kori: Yeah, hi, my name is Kori Whitby. I’m the artistic director of Rogue. That basically means that I am the one in charge of the final decision for what happens in the season as well as the artistic overseer. So I will make sure that every production that we choose to produce is adhering to our mission statement and is the best that it can possibly be.
Robert: And what is the mission statement and purpose of Rogue?
Kori: Rogue exists as a subset of Ellipsis which is a student theatre association, an RSO. We exist in order to produce independent works, original scripts, devised theatre, and things that are inside of the public domain so basically we want to foster new and imaginative works and things that you don’t have to pay for – to buy the rights for. We like doing sight specific theatre but we’ve worked both on stage and in sight specific places. Basically what we want to do is get as many people involved as possible in the creation of work that they typically wouldn’t be able to see in the school of theatre setting.
Robert: Okay. So this is your first semester acting as an independent organization. How’s that been? How’s the split been?
Kori: It’s been really fun. It’s been difficult because, I mean, we are working completely independently. We are funding ourselves, but with help of donations we’ve been able to make back all of the money that we’ve spent so far. It’s been really challenging but fun working as an independent organization. I mean, we still get help from the Ellipsis Board, but generally we work of our own accord. Which is fun.
Robert: You guys have done a lot this semester. How many, or, approximately how many shows have you guys put on?
Kori: Let me think. We did a weekend of original one acts. We did a sight specific piece called An Evening with the Carousel of Progress, we did a production of Dog Sees God, we did an original one act play called Once Upon a Rehab. And then in the month of November we did what we call The Space, which is where we rent out various performance spaces and put on small performance events and in The Space I believe, I mean without counting an estimate we probably put up about six plus nights of ‘things’. So whatever that is, eleven or twelve or something ridiculous.
Robert: And of those what has been your favorite production, if you could name a favorite?
Kori: I mean, The Space is always really exciting because we get to bring in a lot of artists to collaborate with one another and it’s a lot of new original work. We get to work in a really cool – we usually do like a warehouse setting. This year I had a lot of fun with the original one acts we did in the beginning of the semester. And part of that is just because I wrote one so I’m being selfish like that one was the best! But it’s really fun to work with new writers for an extended period of time and then go through the process of having them work with new directors and seeing how they came together in the end was really fun.
Robert: Let’s talk about the production process of The Space. What are the steps involved in that particular ‘thing’?
Kori: Of The Space?
Kori: So for example the closing event of The Space is something that we call 13 Love Songs where we pick a list of thirteen love songs and we assign thirteen artists or pairs of artists to make pieces to one of the songs. Essentially what we do for that, we try to remain pretty hands-off when it comes to the creation of the pieces for The Space. We let the artists do what they will with what they have. So we assigned the songs about a month, month and a half in advance and we give them the date, the time, and when they could come and do a tech run. Then the day before the show everybody came in and did a tech run and then the show happened. So something like that is pretty, well, we were pretty hands-off as far as the artistic side goes because we like to just let people run with it and see what they come up with. But we also had to go through the process of renting out the 621 Gallery and getting all the space set up and figuring out all that out. But yeah, we try to remain pretty hands-off with The Space because it’s just fun to see what people come up with.
Robert: A lot of what you do is devised theatre. So this may be a strange question to ask but I feel like you’re qualified to answer it: what is the importance of devised theatre?
Kori: You know, I think devised theatre is something that not a lot of people understand but at the same time it’s not something that you have to understand to enjoy. I also think that it’s an important skill for like, young theatre makers to realize that they can make a substantial something out of absolutely nothing. That you don’t have to be handed something or you don’t have to be given a role in order to make the theatre that you’re happy making. So I think that, in the amount of devised theatre that we create, we are just giving outlets for people to make non-conventional theatre.
Robert: Okay, awesome. So where do we go with Rogue next year? What are some plans, goals, anything that you’re trying to accomplish next semester?
Kori: Yeah, I mean, we’re still accepting applications for next semester. Our applications come in on a rolling basis. So far we have accepted three shows. So in the beginning of the semester, it’s the second weekend back from school in January, we’re doing a dance piece by Vanessa Alleyne and it’s called Let Us Walk. It’s basically a found footage piece that explores the Black Live Matter movement and things related to that. And in the middle of the semester, I’m not sure if we’ve locked in the dates yet, we are doing an original play called Buttercream and Scotch and that is directed by Jordan Coleman and that will be taking place in Jordan’s home. And then at the end of the semester in April we are doing, for the fourth year in a row, the FLOW Play Festival which is a ten minute original play festival. What we do is we take applications for playwrights and then we spend the whole semester up until the festival working with the playwrights to create original ten minute pieces. Toward the end of the semester we get a cast and directors in and we get it up on its feet and it’s a really fun weekend. But other than that, we’ve got a few other applications that we’re looking at right now and we’re always willing to look at more applications. We’re really excited to see what we get and it’s looking to be another really busy semester.
Robert: Because anyone can submit anything right?
Robert: So it’s not limited – because I see a lot of the same names come around throughout these productions. But it’s not just limited to theatre students at all is it?
Kori: No, absolutely not. In The Space we did a film screening of a short film that I wrote and that we filmed over the summer. You know, Alex is talking about doing a radio piece. We can support and would love to support a bunch of different artistic mediums in the name of theatre.
Robert: Well thanks! Is there anything else you want to say?
Kori: Yeah! I guess if you want to know more about us you can check us out on facebook, we’re https://www.facebook.com/roguexproductions and yeah that’s it, thanks for doing this.
Robert: Alright. Thanks Kori!
KORI WHITBY / Artistic Director for Rogue Productions
ROBERT COCANOUGHER / Editor in Chief
Thanks again to Kori Whitby and Rogue Productions.