It started with an inside joke the set of “The Water Engine,” The College of Idaho’s 2017 spring play. Between intense scenes of mystery and blackmail, four of the play’s actors crafted an ambitious idea for their own show: “Johnny Danger and the Nazis.”
“It’s like a rock musical, but it has a ridiculous budget and we can’t do it right now,” said John Wicks ’17. “But working together after college is something that we knew we wanted to do.”
Now performing in a group they’ve christened the Danger Theatre Company, Wicks is teaming up with fellow theatre alum Austin Murray ’17 and current C of I theatre majors Andres Maldonado and David Garrison to perform Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award winning comedy “Art” at the Alpine Playhouse in McCall, Idaho for two weekends this summer — their first show as a new group creating their own performance opportunities outside of Studio Theatre of the Langroise Center.
“I think working together on something fresh is what unites us all,” Maldonado said. “We all want to do theatre for a living and talk about the kind of theatre that’s relevant to us.”
Garrison is the director for their minimalist take on an English-language adaptation of the originally French play, with Wicks, Maldonado and Murray performing on-stage as the cast, telling the story of three long-time friends clashing over their opinions not only on fine art, but also on love and friendship.
“At its core, this is a play about respect,” Garrison said. “I feel like it’s something really relevant, especially in how our political system is going. How do we respect each other? What do we value? I feel like a lot of what makes theatre so great is reflecting what we’re like as humanity.”
As the group of young artists began to have serious discussions about working together over the summer, Garrison sought out both a script calling for three actors and a performance venue. The group was presented with an opportunity to perform at McCall’s Alpine Playhouse, which allowed them to begin rehearsing seriously.
“I knew three talented actors and I had a script that called for three men,” Garrison said. “And lucky for me, they ended up being the three best suited actors for this show.”
The play’s themes of friendship are well suited to Wicks, Murray and Maldonado, who have all worked together in multiple theatre productions at the C of I. Through their work on-stage and their strong personal relationship beyond it, their natural chemistry is an easy fit for the play’s material.
“When we all get together, we can definitely be a bunch of clowns,” Murray said. “It’s really easy to get too comfortable and forget we’re here to work, too. We have to find a balance between joking around and not being afraid to critique each other.”
The group was also excited to seize the opportunity to perform with creative freedom, exploring the kind of theatre that spoke most to them.
“We don’t want to do the same old stuff anymore,” Wicks said. “We have nothing holding us back from making the performance exactly what we want it to be, and there are no voices in our ears telling us what we need to do. We like taking risks, and I think any time you’re on the stage, you’re risking it all.”
Beyond that, the group also sees it as a learning experience that can get their foot in the door for other performance opportunities in the future, both in Idaho and beyond.
“What I love most about this is that it’s a trial by fire,” Garrison said. “Really, there’s no better way to do this than to just do it. We’re all guys that want to act and perform professionally, and you have to start somewhere.”
“Art” plays at the Alpine Playhouse at 7:30 p.m. on July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5. Tickets cost $7 and are sold at May Hardware as well as the door.
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu