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Becoming Unbalanced

Company seeks to create new opportunities in the Columbus theater scene Seriously, when was the last time drinking a lot of wine gave you a really good idea? An idea that might even change your community? “We’ve been getting together once a month, reading plays out loud, drinking wine, and talking about what we want [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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Company seeks to create new opportunities in the Columbus theater scene

Seriously, when was the last time drinking a lot of wine gave you a really good idea? An idea that might even change your community?

“We’ve been getting together once a month, reading plays out loud, drinking wine, and talking about what we want to do,” said Catherine Cryan Erney. “There is a whole mindset that we want to tip… because we know the talent’s there.”

I’m sitting at Starbucks with Cryan Erney, joined by April Olt and Sonda Staley, the pussyhatters of Columbus theater. We’re all sober, and ready to talk about the plans of The Tipping Point Theatre, a new theater company dedicated to creating opportunities for writers, directors, and performers who are female, older, of color, or perhaps all of the above.

“One of the reasons we started reading plays as a group together is because we noticed that there were a lot more opportunities in Columbus theater for men than women, and we actually created a spreadsheet and looked at that,” said Staley.

The group crunched the numbers of the Theatre Roundtable members for the 2015-2016 season and found some depressing statistics: more than 100 roles more for men than women, fewer roles for women over 30 than men over 30, fewer leading roles for women, and very few shows written by women. The issues were compounded by the fact that women make up a much larger share of the theatrical talent pool. While many community theaters seemed to offer more diverse opportunities, it is a less practical option for those who need to be paid for their work.

In the capital city, known for its tolerance and diversity, this information was unsettling, to say the least.

“We are not showing on stage the demographics of what is America, or even what is Columbus,” says Olt, who noted that outside of the August Wilson Festival at the Short North Stage, no shows by African-American playwrights were produced within two seasons, and the season offered only three roles specifically written for actors of color. As theater artists and as audience members, The Tipping Point questions whether economics is reinforcing the types of shows being produced—good shows, but shows that don’t provide as many opportunities for women or people of color.

“Why are we paying to not see our stories told?” asks Olt. “Look at Broadway. We’ve gone backwards because we’re spending more money on shows. So the fact that it wasn’t until 2016 that you had your first all-female artistic and production team of a musical is telling.”

So, how did get we here?

“All the theaters in Columbus are and have been predominantly managed by men,” says Olt.

“80 percent, 90 percent of shows are directed by men,” says Cryan Erney.

“I don’t think it’s malicious,” Staley interjects.

“It just happened that way,” Olt concludes.

This is Tipping Point’s real-life call to action.

“Rather than just sit around and drink wine and bitch,” explained Staley. “We decided, as women do, to change the playing field. We wanted to be the change that we needed in the Columbus theater community.”

So this January, The Tipping Point got out of the living room and onto the boards with a staged reading of two works by female playwrights featuring all-female casts: Lauren Gunderson’s The Taming, and Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women.

“[The Women] shows the darkness of our history, that when we can’t get what we want, women have been historically pitted against each other, which is thematically what we want to do in the world of theater,” Staley explained. “We don’t want women fighting for the same two or three roles. We want to open up the opportunities so we work together.”

So, where is this going?

“Fiscal viability,” says Olt.

“Fiscal viability!” everyone cheers.

“We want to—first and foremost—do really good theatre,” Staley adds.

“We want juicy, satisfying roles,” Cryan Erney says.

Women have faced discrimination in theater since being forbidden from appearing on stage in the first chapter of classical theater history, but The Tipping Point is not a “No Boys Allowed” club. Despite their frustrating experiences of having to audition for male directors in hotel rooms, or having their appearances deemed “inappropriate” for certain roles, these women have a passion for the theater arts, and they’re not going anywhere.

And they hope that they can inspire other companies to make similar changes. (They give a special shout out to The Actor’s Theatre of Columbus, a classical theater company, for its strides towards gender parity—particularly with its gender-bending production of The Countess of Monte Cristo last summer.)

“We believe that our mission shouldn’t just be ours—that it should make everybody around us think about doing things a little bit differently,” says Olt.

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Arts & Culture

SoHud Collective provides fresh, stylish open-air experience

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The fear of ever going back inside of a building that’s not your home has become a general widespread worry. Open-air markets and garage sales are going to be a hot commodity this summer, and one new company has already taken a proactive and stylish approach to fill that need for consumers.

SoHud Collective is one of the first Columbus-based companies to corner this emerging market. The boutique pop-up shop, founded on the principle of friendships formed around fashion, art, and plants, hosted their first event on Saturday, May 23. 

And oh yeah, free lemonade.

An assortment of deep vintage finds at an incredibly reasonable price will leave you walking away with at least one purchase. The first installment took place on the corner of Hudson and Summit, across the street from Evolved Body Art.

The idea of a pop-up shop at this corner may be a new idea, but the format has been around for ages. Why SoHud Collective is important right now boils down to the consumers’ desire for an out-of-house experience and the employees’ obvious shared compassion for each other and thrifting.

“Fashion has been the glue to our friendship,” said the SoHud Collective, made up of Taylor, Connor, and Hayden. “We thrift together, we borrow each other’s clothing, and we send each other pictures of our outfits before we leave the house.”

A company formed on friendships in the SoHud region, the group behind this passion project has a specific goal in mind when passing down their used goods: keep the SoHud community stylin’. 

“Some of us have lost our jobs due to Covid-19, and this was a great way to keep our spirits up and redirect our attention to something that truly fulfills us,” the SoHud Collective said.

The items featured in the monthly pop-ups are passed down from an assortment of thrifting havens. Closets. Basements. Other thrift stores. Grandmas.

From shoes to shirts, Atari systems to board games, SoHud Collective is elevating the thrifting experience in the time of coronavirus.

“Currently, our focus is on elevating our display and merchandising technique to really give the people an experience and a fierce outfit and home decor to create that perfect photo for Instagram, the SoHud Collective said.”

SoHud Collective would like to thank Evolved for letting it use its parking lot for May’s edition of the pop-up. With a goal to have an installment of SoHud Collective once a month, the pop-up shop will return to the same location on June 27 (11 a.m. until 7 p.m.) and 28 (11 a.m. until 4 p.m.). 

A charity table where all proceeds will go to clothing the homeless LGBTQ youth in Columbus will be present as well. 

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Loop Daddy invades Columbus with first-ever drive-in tour

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The return of live music is going to be one of the trickiest industries to transition back into business as usual, if that will ever be the case. We’ve seen people getting creative, building concert stages within their own homes via live streaming. Some have participated in virtual festivals, probably the sector of live music to take the biggest hit.

But when an industry made up of innovative creatives always trying to come up with the next big idea is faced with incredible hardships, they respond with quick-witted imaginative solutions.

One of the first trends that popped up in the revolution of bringing back live music was the implementation of drive-in lots. Luckily for Columbus, the darling of the internet DJ scene Marc Rebillet aka Loop Daddy will be taking his first-ever drive-in tour through the Buckeye state in mid-June.

Captivating audiences with his participatory DJ scratching and immature antics, extremely goofy sex appeal, and sleazy porno stache, Rebillet was an act poised for a breakout summer before the pandemic shut music concert venues down. If you have access to a car, though, you’ll still have a chance to catch the wild virtual sensation.

On June 14, Rebillet will be pulling up to the South Drive-In for the third stop of his Drive-In Concert Tour. Rebillet will also be showcasing short films as part of his drive-in experience.

As far as sound is going for these events, a lot of drive-ins are opting to go the radio transmission route to encourage people to stay inside of their vehicles.

A very few grouping of tickets remain, which include three-person and four-person car passes. Tickets are running $40 per head (plus additional fees), which seems to be the average across the new wave of drive-in concerts. Two-people/one-car tickets have already sold out.

If you don’t want to miss out on this unique opportunity, act right now. Tickets can be purchased at:

https://nightout.com/events/marc-rebillet-drive-in-tour-columbus-ohio-south-drive-in-presented-by-hotbox/tickets.

Social distancing guidelines are outlined at the point of purchase.

The South Drive-In is located at 3050 S. High St. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show beginning at 9 p.m. Attendees need to arrive before 8:45 p.m. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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