Most theatergoers take home a program as a memento of the productions they see. Theater company THE TRIP leaves its audiences with a new perspective on performance and, in some cases, a tattoo.
Tom Dugdale, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre, and Joshua Brody met at the University of California, San Diego and founded THE TRIP as co-artistic directors in 2012. Brody said they were both interested in theater and wanted to make shows nobody else was making, so they founded their own theater company.
“[THE TRIP tries] to take classic texts and experiment with them, reimagine them in some sort of contemporary way,” Dugdale said.
Brody said the process for making one of their shows can happen in a number of ways, but it usually comes from Dugdale, who finds a fresh angle to take on an old piece to make it new.
“A lot of the work we’re trying to make is about — without it being about audience participation — we really like sort of investigating the boundaries between audience and artists and how we’re interacting,” Brody said.
Dugdale said THE TRIP performs shows in a variety of unconventional venues.
“I think what we try to do is figure out what in the play itself might kind of connect to some sort of outside space,” Dugdale said.
The company’s performance, “Three Plays in a Tattoo Parlor,” conceptualized by Brody, was set in a San Diego tattoo parlor and performed after hours with the staff, while an audience member got a tattoo in the background.
THE TRIP’s performance of “Macbeth” was set in a former military barracks that was converted for commercial use. Dugdale said the military elements related directly to “Macbeth,” with the reverberant concrete creating a cold, haunting atmosphere that supported the themes of the production.
Dugdale said shows in different locations provide opportunities to meet a new group of people as the audience each time.
Dugdale said he focuses mainly on traditional shows and settings in his role at Ohio State. He said it is important for students to learn the more traditional ways of theater. However, Dugdale said his work with THE TRIP has definitely had some influence on his work with the Ohio State theater department.
“You can modify the performance space. You can sort of bring an audience into the space,” Dugdale said. “You can sort of blur the lines between spectators and performance, so there are things I’ve been able to bring from THE TRIP into more traditional environments, and that’s about the way I’m able to do it here at OSU.”
Brody said that while members of THE TRIP are all leading separate lives, he hopes they always have THE TRIP to come back to.
“And that way, we keep growing, we keep pushing each other and ourselves to make work that no one else is letting us make, that a theater doesn’t want to pay me to make a certain kind of show so I’m able to make that kind of work with my company instead,” Brody said. “And for it to be like a true artistic and free artistic home I think is always going to be my goal.”