by John Stoehr
PURE Theatre, which recently wrapped up a brilliant production of Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, is looking for a new home after learning they’ll be out of a lease by the end of the year.
But becoming itinerant is no big deal. PURE has always had a vagabond-like lifestyle. They don’t do marketing, because they can’t afford to. They let their quality inspire people to talk. The tactic seems effective. They have over 200 season subscribers from word of mouth.
Imminent homelessness hasn’t put the kibosh on the troupe’s plans for a last hurrah at the Cigar Factory (the entire complex will be converted into condos in coming months). Three of PURE’s working playwrights began a run of holiday shorts last week and continues this weekend. They are the result of a playing-writing workshop called the PURE Lab. It’s led by Spencer Deering, the company’s literary manager, whose own work is on the menu.
Called Walking Backwards for the Last Time, Deering’s short is about a moody college student fallen on hard times. His girlfriend just broke up with him, he’s hungover as a result, and he’s about to give a tour of the College of Charleston to an gaggle from an all-girls school. Seems like trouble brewing? Wait and see.
Also in the queue is a satiric play called Brother Bill. Written by PURE Lab member Jimmy Ward, it’s about a Charleston financier with shady ethics getting probed by the Feds who clearly don’t understand Christmas tidings of peace on earth, good will toward even the richest of men.
Lastly, there’s a play with a title after my own heart (and stomach). A Waffle House Christmas, written by PURE co-founder and resident playwright Rodney Lee Rogers, is the story of a self-proclaim “queen of the scattered, smothered, and covered” keeping her son in line and her flighty granddaughter in check during a particularly bad night before Christmas.
The press material calls this perfect for “the Jerry Springer set.” Given that Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati and all-around Mr. Nice Guy, has recently become the subject of a controversial opera (yes, it’s true), there’s surely more to A Waffle House Christmas than meets the eye.
On a personal note, PURE has been a distinct delight since I relocated to Charleston. After watching Rabbit Hole, I sense that little will stop PURE from making theater happen somewhere, somehow. After conversations with co-founder Sharon Graci, there’s little doubt in my mind that PURE will carry on. She regards losing their lease as an opportunity more than a problem.
PURE’s next major production is The Tragedian, written by Rogers. It’s about the more famous celebrity brother of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
“Maybe we’ll just do it outside,” Graci said.