Co-founders Daniel Leeman Smith, Rick Foresee and Robyn Mitchell met while working on Ghostlight Theatre Club’s “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” earlier this year and discovered they shared a similar vision for theater performance and education.
“We talked about what was missing in the community and about what theater should be,” said Smith. “We agreed unanimously that theater should educate, engage, involve and ask questions of the community, as well as entertain it.”
Rather than wait months or potentially years to stage shows and launch education initiatives at an existing theater, the three decided to start their own theater company, allowing them to start producing shows right away with complete artistic control.
Another catalyst of Theatre Collective was the freedom to pursue an aggressive education component that will be free to locals who want training, but can’t afford to attend a performing-arts academy.
Theatre Collective’s first production, “The Hospice,” directed by Smith, was a snapshot of gay culture in America prior to HIV/AIDS treatment. It was written by Oklahoma native Mark Henricksen, a local playwright and seasoned trial lawyer focused on defending civil liberties.
“He is one of the kindest, and most intelligent people you will ever meet. Mark is currently working on a play about the death penalty, which I hope we can get our hands on,” Smith said.
Smith expects Theatre Collective’s audiences to be intellectual, trendy and gay or gay-friendly.
“Our desire is to be a part of the community in a profound way. We are about educating and empowering,” he said. “We are also about pushing boundaries, which is something I think other companies are afraid to do because they may lose audiences.”
In the future, Smith said Theatre Collective will continue to take on challenging concepts presented in cutting-edge plays.
For more information, visit theatrecollectiveokc.com.