In mid-April, local theater company Common House Productions will bring two weeks of outdoor entertainment to Wyatt Deck, performing Larry Shue’s popular comedy The Foreigner. The play follows a guest at a fishing lodge in rural Georgia who becomes privy to many town secrets after a misunderstanding obligates him to pretend he doesn’t speak English.
This will be only the second production for Common House, who formed in September 2012 and debuted with a chilling ghost story, The Lady in Black, for an immersive campfire performance in East Davis last Halloween. The current show is expected to expose their talent to a greater audience, as it brings its brand of enthusiastic and inclusive theatre to a widely trafficked community space.
“Showcase is a perfect word for our Picnic Day performance,” said Brianna Owens, vice president of Common House and co-director of The Foreigner. “We feel like Picnic Day is the perfect opportunity to get the word out about our fairly new production company.”
In addition to the free performance, Picnic Day visitors are invited to visit Wyatt Deck throughout the day to get a closer look at the set and take some photos with the actors in honor of the annual event’s theme, “Snapshot.”
The company has roots in the Davis and Sacramento areas, although its board members and performers hail from far and wide, and from backgrounds as diverse as law, journalism, education and philosophy. Their common goal, according to Owens, has been to provide “affordable, unpretentious, community-based theatre” to the public, taking any performance space they inhabit and turning it into a common house for strong, engaging storytelling.
The other co-director in charge of the group’s current production is Vanessa Rapatz, an English lecturer at UC Davis. Rapatz compares theatre work with her own profession.
“Working with a community theater group is a perfect way to think through my own pedagogy, but it’s also a wonderful artistic outlet that allows me to play outside my academic circle,” Rapatz said.
The decision to focus on a comedic show was driven by the mission to entertain.
“One of our missions as a production company is to feature plays that are focused on storytelling and strong narratives, and The Foreigner fits the bill,” Rapatz said. “It also calls for a strong ensemble cast, which is what we’re all about. The performers all seem extremely excited to be a part of this production. The play itself is a hilarious comedy and even the first read-through had us in stitches.”
Whether one is familiar with the play or not, the upcoming rendition of The Foreigner is a perfect opportunity to witness the region’s newest theatre company in action, and they are eager to introduce a growing audience to their unique and heartfelt brand of art.
“Both the cast and the production staff are incredibly excited for the show. We can’t wait to share this performance with the community,” said cast member and vice president Katie Goehring. “We have put in a lot of work and are very confident in the product that we have created.”
Performances will begin on April 18, with a special free 10 a.m. performance taking place on Picnic Day. For more information about purchasing tickets and about the play itself, visit the group website at commonhouseproductions.com.
ANDREW RUSSELL can be reached at email@example.com.