"/verv/ has always been a shoestring theater company," director JC Conway says. "By this, I mean that we use our creativity to compensate for our lack of funding."
He adds, "I personally believe that any theater company's strongest asset is not their financial backing but the members of the company."
And, luckily for the Theatre /verv/ crew, they've got some committed individuals to depend on. "When /verv/ started in 2005, we were a motivated group of artists interested in producing creative and exciting theater and film. At that point in time the only affordable venues for performance were bars." With productions like Trainspotting, All in the Timing, and local playwright Franklin Ashley's piece The Delta Dancer, gaining critical success, /verv/ was able to continue producing more shows without the benefit of grants or donations — they don't rely on nonprofit money — but then they took a two-year hiatus. Now, /verv/ is back, and they've got a new home, the South of Broadway Theatre in North Charleston's Park Circle.
Can a theater group succeed in North Charleston? Conway thinks so, and he looks to companies like the Village Playhouse as an example. "Some would say that being outside of the downtown Charleston area would be a risk, but Village has had great success in Mt. Pleasant, and even our one show in West Ashley was reasonably well attended," he says. "Hopefully, we will be able to attract some people who have never visited the Park Circle area out there, while building a loyal following of locals."
On tap for this season, /verv/ has The Blue Room, playwright David Hare's 1998 adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's piece Der Reigen. Some may recall the hype of the Broadway debut in which Nicole Kidman played the female lead and in a brief scene revealed her buttocks, which in turn caused advance ticket sales to top $4 million. If /verv/'s version is anything like that, we can expect big sales. The Blue Room will likely be a tough act to follow, but /verv/ will round out the year with Criminal Hearts, Asylum, and Taming of the Shrew. Along with Deuce Theatre and South of Broadway Theatre Company, Conway hopes that Theatre /verv/ will be able to help make Park Circle an arts destination, and have a positive economic impact on the businesses in the area as well. "I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by the theater explosion that is getting ready to happen in North Charleston," he says.
As for what the future holds for Charleston, well, let's be honest, "I know some people out there would like to see a big Broadway-style production company set up here, or to at least have a full equity house," Conway says. "Personally, I just want to continue to have the opportunity to do what I love."