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Stage Right

Conservative Theater in Columbus sets the stage for debate Remember when theater legend David Mamet “came out” in 2008? Not as gay, but as conservative. Well, in a theatrical universe largely populated by the left—where an openly conservative voice is rare—it was huge news. Somewhere, Robert Cooperman was applauding. With the last year’s drama-filled Presidential [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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Conservative Theater in Columbus sets the stage for debate

Remember when theater legend David Mamet “came out” in 2008?

Not as gay, but as conservative. Well, in a theatrical universe largely populated by the left—where an openly conservative voice is rare—it was huge news.

Somewhere, Robert Cooperman was applauding.

With the last year’s drama-filled Presidential campaign as his mise-en-scène, the Dublin native set off on an ambitious project: to put plays from the right on stage, and give audiences a new challenge.

Inspired by a similar festival in Philadelphia, Cooperman, an adjunct professor of English and Theater at Ohio University-Lancaster, put out a national call for scripts in July and received 38. Six short scripts were selected for the festival, held for an evening last January. Cooperman hopes to repeat the festival sometime next year under the moniker of Stage Right Theatrics.

(614) recently talked with Cooperman about theater and politics, and what future conservative theater might have in Columbus.

What is conservative theater? Does a play have to express a political viewpoint to be conservative?
[Conservative theater] expresses a view, for example, that there is a higher being than just us—that we are not our own gods. It expresses the value that there is one law of the land, and that is the Constitution and that’s what we need to be following. That there is such a thing as human nature—which is why communism and socialism don’t work, because it goes against human nature. We’re trying to be celebratory of success. We don’t like labels on people. We like to say that we’re all Americans. Conservative theater celebrates, in some way, those kinds of values. We’re currently in our infancy and we’re writing satire. I’d like to see plays get developed more, and actually grapple with those issues. For me, conservative theater will have to evolve. We can’t just always be satire and parody.

What’s the conservative’s response to watching a musical like Rent, or a play like Greater Tuna, which portrays rural, small-town residents as willfully ignorant? Can you overcome politics to see performances?
Conservatives go to the theater…and they see us being ridiculed in that way. There’s this superficial and stereotypical view of what we are. We go to the theater and we see this; we tend not to go to the theater, then. So we go to musicals where nobody’s offended, or Shakespeare. As a result, we’re not represented in the theater very often.

You’re Jewish. I recall you writing a short script about the frustrations of being a politically conservative Jew. Tell me about that.
I come from New York. We were all Jews where I come from, so we shared that. When you move to Central Ohio, you don’t see as many Jews. They are here, but you don’t see them. What tends to happen is that you leave your comfortable environment, and you become more of what you were. So I left New York, where I never attended temple—none of my friends went to temple, or very few. I come to Ohio and the first thing I did was join a temple because you want to seek camaraderie with people. But I have become disillusioned with it because the rabbis are…proselytizing for a particular political cause—and that’s not why I go to temple. And I actually discussed it with one of the rabbis there, and his response was, “Well that’s who I am and that’s what I’m going to do.” [My response was,] “Okay, then I’m leaving.” It’s different to be a conservative Jew, but at this point in my life, I’m not seeking others. I’m just seeking like-minded conservatives of any religious stripe.

Considering that Columbus, like most urban centers, leans to the left, who do you see as your audience?
Twofold. One, the easy answer: I’d like to see conservatives as the audience—people who feel that the theater is not for them. I want for people who don’t normally go to the theater to come out and see some theater. The other thing is I want people who don’t agree with us to come out and see what we’re all about. Just to see another point of view.

We’ve found a real political divide between rural/small town and urban America. Since urban America produces most of our playwrights, might government funding of the local arts in smaller town theaters help a conservative voice take hold? What do you think of potential cuts or elimination of federal funding for the arts?
I think that’s left to local governments, and I have no problem at all if a local government wanted to fund the arts, but the [National Endowment for the Arts], I don’t know. I love PBS as much as everybody else, but I don’t know if the [federal] government should be in the business of doing that. I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution that says the government shall fund the arts. Let the community, let the people, let the corporations, let the state or the city do that.

Your mantra is, “Disagreement doesn’t equal hate.” Do you think audiences are in a place where they can be open-minded about politically themed theater?
I do think people have that capacity. They have to go in with the mindset of, “I’m here to listen.” [People] come in with a predetermined idea of what they’re going to see. That was true for the festival. But they stayed. I will tell you that.

To submit a script or find out more, visit conservativefestivaloh.com.

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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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