This summer, a new Rhode Island theater company hopes to make waves with its inaugural performance. RI SALT (Stage Actors Live Theater) begins their run of Sam Shepard's "Fool For Love" at The Performance Space at 95 Empire Street in Providence this week.
The two-week run will host evening performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 30; Sunday, July 3; Thursday, July 7 and Sunday, July 10.
Founded last year, the Cranston-based RI SALT seeks to create enriching theater arts experiences through education, studio work and live theater productions. Additionally, they host acting classes and workshops for theater students of all experience levels.
"I was drawn to theater early on," said Christin L. Goff, founder and artistic director of RI SALT. "It is so fulfilling to be able to share that experience seeing a piece of theater evolve from first read to closing night with so many talented young people. I am fortunate to be able to continue acting and producing live theater in Rhode Island and I'm grateful for all the support."
Inspired by a studio class shed taken in New York, Goff wanted to do studio work and at the same time put on live performances that would have what she calls "classroom aspects." Her central mission with RI SALT is to have acting students of all ages and interns learn the behind the curtain ins-and-outs of theater production.
Rather than test the waters with a toe, Goff recommends young actors cannonball into the deep end.
Studio classes are good for learning, but I think the best way to learn theater is to be plunked right down in the middle of it, she said. I learned best just by being a sponge, so I want to provide that opportunity for people who want to learn that way."
Goff, who is the director of and an actor in "Fool For Love," will share the stage with three other actors. One of them, Warwick resident and Cranston native Chris Martin, 38, Goff describes as a "workaholic." Martin, after a near 20-year break from acting after high school, has recently returned to the stage and found a home with RI SALT.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Martin. “It’s a breath of fresh air; it’s very open and collaborative. It’s very invigorating to get up there and do such powerful stories with such wonderful characters and good direction.”
First performed in 1983, "Fool For Love," is perhaps Sam Shepard's best-known play. Goff describes it as “a very kick-you-in-the-gut kind of play. It's very powerful, it's very physical, and it’s very emotional." Goff promises plenty of excitement from the Shepard play.
“It's such a physical play that we actually have a fight coordinator. One of the actors had to get a roping coach to teach him how to lasso,” she said. "You're going to be dazzled; it's a really wonderful play to start out with.
The decision to select a one-act play to kick off RI SALT was, for Goff, a very conscious one.
“It's really in your face. It's short and extremely powerful,” says Goff. “It doesn't put patrons in the position where the inaugural production is something that has two or three acts and requires a lot of thought.”
While RI SALTs inaugural production was selected with the intention of being short and punchy, Goff’s aspirations for future productions are more ambitious.
She was tight-lipped about future productions, but does promise that she is working on getting several more in motion.
“I really want to do something that requires more actors,” said Goff. “I would love to do a play that requires more acting talent to pull from Rhode Island. I'm hoping that it will be a musical, something that can be enjoyed by a different type of patron.”
But productions are only just one aspect of the RI SALT organization. Goff aspires to one day have a theater that RI SALT can call home.
“I see it being a place where people can come and learn the craft of acting and the crafts of theater. I'd love to do workshops in fight coordination. I'd love to have people come learn about sound for theater and lights for theater.”
Martin, too, said he predicts big things for this company.
“I think it can easily be the next great institution in the state following Trinity and 2nd Story. I think years down the line you’re going to see SALT do some pretty big things,” he said.
With a laundry list of aspirations, it is clear that this fledging theater group has big dreams. With the backing of the Rhode Island theater community, Goff is confident she can see them realized.
"I believe in Rhode Island audiences. I know that they're out there. They're supportive, they're very intellectual, they love a good time, and I know that they would support a theater like mine."
Tickets for "Fool For Love" are available for $15 and can be purchased on the RI SALT website at www.risalt.com.