Hunger Artists Theater Closing its Doors :-(

Categories: Breaking News
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From the recent "Rag and Bones"
One of the longest chapters in Orange County theater history comes to a close next month and, unfortunately, it ends on a sad note: After 16 years of offering the most literary-conscious collection of plays on a local stage not named South Coast Repertory, the Hunger Artists Theater Company closes in December.

Started by a group of friends who met in Orange Coast College's theater department, the theater debuted in a tiny Costa Mesa art space before moving to downtown Santa Ana for a couple of seasons and eventually winding up in Fullerton.

No reason for the closure was given in a press release sent out today today, but it's not hard to guess the principal one: not enough asses in the seats. The theater's location in an industrial park was anything but ideal and, unlike other local storefront companies, such as the Chance Theater, Maverick and Stages, the administration and performers changed multiple times over the course of its history. With the notable exception of Mark Coyannone of its original founders were still involved with the company and perhaps the turnover took its toll.

What never suffered was the adventurous programming choices.  From original pieces like Kelly Flynn's rambunctious mash-up of Noel Coward's Private Lives, White Trash Private Lives, Jason Lindner's mesmerizing The Gog and Magog Project, and its long-running Halloween bloodbath, Madame Guignol's Macabre Theatre, the company was never tentative when it came to original work. And its programming choices included playwrights like Edward Albee, Samuel Beckett and Sam Shepard, along with border-pushing fare like Marat/Sade and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

And while, unfortunately, the theater generated the most headlines for an off-site incident in 2010 involving an actor in a play that really doesn't deserve to be mentioned in detail here, what it deserves to be remembered and hailed for was 16 years of mining rich soil in the sorely under-appreciated trenches of Orange County storefront theater. Its actors, playwrights, directors and designers didn't do it for the money and there wasn't a great deal of glory in it. They did it with heart, soul, passion and the kind of tenacious determination that those who have never been part of a theater company just can't understand.

Named after a short story by Franz Kafka, the Hunger Artists leave a bounteous legacy behind. Its last show, Noah Haidle's Rag and Bone ends this Sunday (it has a few rentals in December, but no further self-generated productions). When the metaphorical curtains drop, Orange County theater will be a much lonelier place.

I mean fuck. I've written about it so often over the years that I know the address and the phone number by heart!

Rag and Bone at the Hunger Artists Theatre, 699-A, S. St. College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6803. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. www.hungerartists.com.

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4 comments
daleand3571
daleand3571

Thank you, Joel. Memories of the Hunger Artists. I saw Streetcar Named Desire and Fool for Love at their old location on 4th Street in Santa Ana. Both times, there were more people in the cast than in the audience. And both times, the performances were top notch.

 

I saw 448 Psychosis at the Fullerton venue the night you were there. Four people in the audience (one of them was the playwright Noah Haidle). A magnificent one-woman show featuring Jessica Topliff,

 

RIP, HA....

drews4
drews4

Orange County will definitely be poorer for this loss.

 

marina6266
marina6266

Beautifully written Joel. Thank you for writing this.

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