The Epic Theatre Company has found a home at Cranston’s nonprofit Artists’ Exchange, stepping in this month as the exchange’s first-ever resident theater company.
The Artists’ Exchange, which had opened its Black Box Theatre at 50 Rolfe Square and nearby Theatre 82 to Epic founder and producer Kevin Broccoli in the past, came up with the idea of the residency this summer. Gateways to Change Inc., of Warwick, is the exchange’s parent organization.
Hosting of the venture seemed to make sense, said Elaine McKenna-Yeaw, the director of the Artists’ Exchange and Theatre 82. The exchange has the space, and Broccoli is a proven commodity.
“The Artists’ Exchange is our business venture and it’s a community arts center with a dual mission of providing arts to the community and also integrating adults with disabilities into everything we do,” she said. “His shows do very well, and whenever he’s done a show for us, we’ve done very well.”
The informal arrangement will continue “as long as it works,” she said.
The exchange operates with a budget of less than $500,000, she said. The Black Box Theatre seats 35, while Theatre 82 seats 110.
With the new arrangement, Broccoli’s theater company, a one-man operation which uses available volunteer actors, directors, marketers and a production manager, has “access to and use of all our space,” said McKenna-Yeaw. “We do a 50-50 split for shows. And he helps promote shows with the box office. ”
The exchange won’t charge Epic fees or rent, she added.
Broccoli jokingly described his theater company as “me and four folding chairs. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek because we never had any money or anything.”
A full-time librarian at the Johnston Public Library by day, he started the theater company at Rhode Island College in 2005, producing shows but purposely staying out of the limelight. He will act or write for other theater companies, but not his own.
This past fall, the theater company began putting on programming more regularly, with almost a show a month between November and August. Some of the past shows, including John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation” in February and Sarah Ruhl’s “Passion Play” in 2012 were presented at the Zabinski Music Studio in Pawtucket at the Hope Artists’ Village.