Renaissance Turns 20
Theaterworks for Suzan Fete and Jennifer Rupp
Jennifer Rupp and Suzan Fete are two of the five founding members of Renaissance Theaterworks (158 N. Broadway). This year, RTW celebrates 20 years of great drama.
How did RTW get started?
JR: When I was 13, I tossed a picnic table into a swimming hole and used it as a raft. When my parents asked why, I told them it seemed like a good idea at the time. I think that answer applies here, too.
SF: I remember thinking “How hard can it be?” That thought has gotten me in much trouble throughout my life.
JR: The original shows, including three versions of Red Pepper Jelly and four amazing plays by our playwright-in-residence, Marie Kohler.
SF: Outreach and collaboration stuff. For Blackbird in 2010, we worked with the great people from the Aurora Sexual Assault Treatment Center. This summer, we spent two days creating artwork for The Road to Mecca with local artist Katie Martin and girls from PEARLS for Teen Girls. Just a blast!
JR: Criminal Hearts. Only two people came. Afterward, we found out they were ushers.
SF: I was one of four on stage for that. They gave us a standing ovation, though.
JR: Another very dark time: when Theatre X closed, followed shortly by Bialystock & Bloom and then Milwaukee Shakespeare. I loved those companies and the people who ran them and it hurt to see.
SF: Yeah, sad time. Also, when we opened Chesapeake after 9/11 and no one came to see it, because no one was going anywhere.
Best actor and actress, writer, director, and personality you have worked with?
JR: Not fair! Diplomatically: “those I work with presently.” But I will say Suzan Fete is my favorite director.
SF: Wayne T. Carr and Braden Moran for actors. I also adore Holly Payne, my all time favorite costume designer, and Nate Stuber as set designer
Favorite show of all time?
JR: Skin Tight—I cried like a baby every night I saw it!
SF: The Syringa Tree is another standout.
Speaking of drama…worst fight you have ever had?
JR: We just don’t have time.
SF: I guess if you came into a staff meeting you might think we're fighting.
Really? Two decades solid, day in and out—not even over a man, or money?
SF: We’ve both been married since before the Stone Age…and there isn't ever any money to fight over anyway.
What makes RTW unique?
SF: We make every effort to provide roles for women. This is no small thing. Currently in the U.S. 84% of produced plays are written and directed by men.
JR: And you get chocolate when you leave. How cool is that?
Why should people come see your plays?
JR: We will move you—sad, angry, happy, or giddy—but you will be moved. And it feels so much better than surround sound. I promise.
SF: Also chocolate.
Twenty more years? What's next for RTW?
JR: Every audience member goes home with a new car.
SF: In 50 years—a new hover board!