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Khaos Theory

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Actors have been spending every weeknight at a new near-eastside theater space, rehearsing on alternate evenings for two different plays that will open simultaneously next week.

Indianapolis's newest professional regional theater, Khaos Theatre Company, is doubling up while looking to build an audience -- and fast. The burgeoning acting troupe will begin its inaugural 2015 season with two shows -- Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde and Eugene O'Neill's Thirst -- that will run on consecutive weekends between Feb. 6 and March 14. The plays are thematically paired because they both "question the morals of mankind." The idea is that a theatergoer can come two weeks in a row and see something new Artistic Director Kaylee Spivey Good says.

Allyson Womack as "Sweet Young Miss" (left) and Tyler Gordon as "The Poet" (right) during a rehearsal for the upcoming La Ronde.
  • Allyson Womack as "Sweet Young Miss" (left) and Tyler Gordon as "The Poet" (right) during a rehearsal for the upcoming La Ronde.

Good started the group last June with a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to provide professional theater experience to emerging artists who aren't yet unionized, but who are on track to becoming so. She founded Khaos partly because limited opportunities existed in Central Indiana, outside community theaters for recent graduates of Indiana University, Butler University, the University of Indianapolis and other schools. She's concerned that talented theater grads are forced to leave Indianapolis altogether to pursue roles in other markets.

"Local colleges are turning out very talented actors and playwrights and directors," Good says. "But it's problematic because there's not a lot of union work they qualify for so they can have professional-paying jobs that would let them work full-time in theater. We hope to broaden those opportunities."

Khaos is named after a play Good wrote about racial conflict in Athens for her senior thesis, after visiting Greece as an exchange student. She helped establish the new theater group in the near-eastside Rivoli Park Neighborhood on E. 10th Street in the Cliffords Corner building near the historic Rivoli Theatre, which is in the middle of a massive renovation project -- one that Khaos would be interested in eventually performing in.

While the small startup theater company is not directly involved in efforts to renovate the deteriorated movie palace, Khaos generally hopes to restore the surrounding neighborhood.

"We support emerging artists in the theater, whether actors or playwrights or directors," she says. "We want to bring more people into the Rivoli Park neighborhood, to see how wonderful it is."

The 60-seat theater Khaos currently occupies is set up in a theatre-in-the-round arrangement that will allow actors to perform in seats next to audience members, but it's a flexible space that can be changed for each performance.

Khaos Theatre Company is committed to accessibility, particularly of the surrounding neighborhood. There will be a pay-what-you-want charge for all Thirst performances at the door, as well as a buy-one-get-one-free promotion for La Ronde on Valentine's Day and a pay-what-you-want-night on Feb. 28.

The 2015 season includes Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding, a summer Shakespeare in the Park series in an urban setting and the 2015 Dionysia New Play Competition to give aspiring Indianapolis playwrights an opportunity to stage their work.

Tyler Gordon as "Sir Toby Belch" (left), "Anthony Nathan"  Malvolio (Right) while rehearsing for Twelfth Night. - COURTESY OF KAYLEE SPIVEY GOOD
  • Courtesy of Kaylee Spivey Good
  • Tyler Gordon as "Sir Toby Belch" (left), "Anthony Nathan" Malvolio (Right) while rehearsing for Twelfth Night.

"There's a lot of talent in the local theater scene," Good says. "We're growing our actors' pool more and more with each new production."

A goal is to help revitalize the East 10th Street neighborhood, which Good says could one day be as culturally vibrant as Mass Ave or Fountain Square. The company has been working with the East Tenth Street Civic Association and wants to place a spotlight on the underutilized Liberty Plaza across from its home base of Clifford Commons by staging its summer Shakespeare in the Park production there. The Bard could be appreciated against a more urban backdrop, according to Good.

"It's an absolutely beautiful neighborhood," she says. "It's one of the few places in Indianapolis that's dominated with 1950s architecture. There are more and more businesses doing great things, like the Tick Tock Longue or Audrey's Place furniture. It's lesser known but has the potential to be wonderful."

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