Louisville Improvisors Chris Anger and Keith McGill in “Ricketts and Randy: A Man, a Dummy and a Dream.”

There was a moment during a now-infamous talk featuring Jon Jory of Actors Theatre last year when Walden Theatre Managing Director Allison Huff found herself taken aback. Looking from side to side and across the audience, she appreciated for the first time just how numerous her creative brethren in Louisville theatre had become. Planning for Louisville’s first-ever collaborative theatre festival began the very next week.

Expanding from Walden’s established Slant Culture Series, which provided the organization’s young actors the opportunity to play characters their own age as written by up-and-coming playwrights, the Slant Culture Theatre Festival centers on productions from five of Derby City’s top companies: Walden Theatre, Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble, Theatre [502], Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company and Louisville Improvisors.

Huff and Festival Director Teresa Willis hope the unprecedented effort will help to cross-pollinate the respective passion and audiences of these five groups, while encouraging on-the-fence theatre-goers by wrapping it up in a package that this city understands all too well: a festival.

Kicking off this Thursday night (7:30 p.m. -10:45 p.m.) with a launch party, the festival will run through Nov. 18 at Walden, with associated after-parties at local favorites like Decca, Meat and The Bard’s Town.

Greg Maupin, Kyle Ware, and Abigail Bailey Maupin of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble in “5 Things”

Willis explained that the opening night event will feature music by Cheyenne Marie Mize, as well as Joel Henderson and The Forty Gallon Baptists, with special short performances by Le Petomane and Louisville Improvisors. She did not hint as to the identity of the special mystery guest for the evening’s after party at Meat, but was almost giddy about a Slant-themed, lime green cocktail the bar would have on hand for festival patrons.

Festival participants will find plenty to do outside the main stages, with other events including a staged reading of director Wes Anderson’s quirky film “The Royal Tenenbaums,” literature spotlights presented by Typecast Publishing, a show and workshop with the Squallis Puppeteers, and a theatre workshop presented by Sharon Scott and Bart Galloway of Louisville’s newest experimental radio station, ART+FM. Hungry attendees will find plenty of grub from local food trucks Black Rock Grille, Traveling Kitchen, Grind, Gyros Express and Genius in a Box, as well as a full bar offering local and regional brews.

Perhaps a more locally rooted take on a certain yearly festival, Slant is offering a $1 festival button, which provides wearers with discounts and other special offers at Shine, Consider Boutique, Taco Punk, Hyland Glass and Bellarmine University Theatre Program’s world premiere production of Carlos Manuel’s “Frida Khalo: A Portrait.”

Huff and Willis concede that Slant is an experiment. It’s bringing together five dynamic and engaging theatre companies under one roof for the first time, but also betting that the sum of those efforts, the promise of new ideas from that collaboration, is something that will not only prove compelling to arts scene aficionados, but to curious newcomers as well.

Regardless, it’s a new model for collaboration that’s sure to fundamentally alter the landscape of what can be done here.

Tickets for all individual shows are $12, with festival passes for $55, weekday passes for $18 and weekend passes at $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the website: http://www.slantculture.com/

Insider Louisville’s coverage of the Slant Culture Theatre Festival continues tomorrow with a rundown of the five primary productions.

About Chris Ritter: 

Chris Ritter is a Louisville-native freelance writer whose work has also appeared in The Paper and on LouisvilleKY.com. He produces and hosts a weekly film discussion show called Surreelfilm on Crescent Hill Radio. Fluent in Japanese, his other work includes translation services, alongside editing and social media coordination.

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