Company OutCast is Louisville’s newest theater outfit, and the group has a clear mission as it embarks on its first year: To present a diverse array of Louisville actors opportunities to play the roles that are mostly off-limits to them because of sex, gender, race or body shape.
While Louisville has seen its fair share of outside-the-lines casting, it’s always a step outside the theater company’s comfort zone — it’s something different, perhaps a high concept re-imagining. But for OutCast, non-traditional casting will be the main focus.
And in addition to non-traditional casting, OutCast hopes to shed light on local writers and experimental performance to expand even further the opportunities for overlooked actors.
On Friday, Jan. 5, they’ll meet the public for the first time with a reading of Shauvon McGill’s new play, “Triple Moon,” at The Bard’s Town. Insider spoke with McGill and OutCast Associate Director Marcy Ziegler about the show and the need for the new theater company.
“I’ve had the same conversations with dozens of people all across the spectrum,” says Ziegler. “Those conversations centered around the lack of dimensional roles for women, the lack of roles for women in general. Seems like when most people show up to audition for a show, there’s two roles for women, and 25 of us come out for it. Then there’s 25 roles available for men, and two men come out for it.”
The lack of good roles for women is nothing new. You can page through Shakespeare and find plenty of plays with multiple strong starring roles for men — and only a role or two for women.
But Ziegler says OutCast wants to do more than simply gender flips of plays.
“I talked to people who weren’t getting cast or had difficulties being cast because they were people of color, or they had an accent, or they weren’t the right size, or the right look, or the right type,” she says.
Frequently in theater, the “right type” means normatively attractive people, as if women over 120 pounds don’t fall in love, have difficult jobs, make impossible choices or suffer tragedy.
While the inspiration for OutCast came from multiple of conversations, Ziegler can pinpoint the exact night she and a group of friends decided to do something about it.
She had gone to see her partner and several of her friends in a production of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” at The Alley Theater. She thought the show was awesome. Afterward, the group went out for drinks and discussion.
“As the women were sitting around talking, I said, ‘That male lead character, that’s the one I would have wanted (to play),’ ” Ziegler explains. “That character was multidimensional, good and bad, had some great songs. It was several of us who are now in the company saying: ‘You know, I feel the same way. I want to read for that, and I want to play that.’ And it was that moment OutCast began.”
Many of those friends already had a working relationship, having created a film together for last year’s 48 Hour Film Fest called “That’s What She Said: The Musical.”
This conversation, in a bit of serendipity, was happening at The Bard’s Town, the restaurant and theater that is the center of a lot of creativity in the scene.
“When we were having that conversation, Doug (Schutte) from The Bard’s Town was there. And Doug was partially in that conversation, and he said: ‘This is such a great idea. I would love to partner with you to have it at the venue,’ ” says Ziegler.
With that push, it seemed like there weren’t any excuses left. Ziegler and company got down to business. Over the course of several meetings, the group of friends — which quickly became Company OutCast — settled on their first outing, McGill’s “Triple Moon.”
McGill says it’s a woman-centric story, reinforcing the company’s mission to provide a greater variety of parts.
“It’s a story about three young women who are fed up with society in general, so they decide to become witches,” McGill explains.
While he has written many previous works, including screenplays, “Triple Moon” marks the first time he’ll see his work on stage.
“I’m really excited to be able to work with the incredibly talented people who are putting this together,” says McGill.
After “Triple Moon,” OutCast will start getting ready for its first full season of productions.
“We haven’t announced a season yet — we want to do April, July and September,” says Ziegler. “We hope for July’s show to be in an alternative venue, and we hope to release our season in the next couple of weeks.”
Expect that season to include three plays and two more forays into film.
So be on the lookout for more news from Company OutCast. In the meantime, catch” Triple Moon” on Friday, Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at The Bard’s Town, 1801 Bardstown Road. The event is free, and the evening starts out with a set from the all-women improv group Hysterical.