THEATRE WITHOUT COMPROMISE Dedicated to new, exciting, and innovative theatrical works of the highest quality, we provide a space where writers, performers, and an audience can come together in a spirit of community and collaboration to expand our understanding of what is possible in the theatre. We also offer educational programs and support for artist development for Southwestern Virginia. By working in concert with other arts organizations, we will strive to make Roanoke a nationally recognized ignition point for new play development.
30 Campbell Ave., SW
Roanoke VA 24011
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2011
ROANOKE, VA – Ben R. Williams has been hired as the new general manager of
Studio Roanoke, a black-box theatre that specializes in the development and
production of new dramatic works.
Williams, a 2007 graduate of Roanoke College, has been the Director of Guerrilla
Programming at Studio Roanoke since May, 2010, planning and hosting both
Guerrilla Playhouse and Guerrilla Cinema. His first play, Ant Farm
(directed by Todd Ristau), debuted at Studio Roanoke in May, 2009. His most
recent play, Man With Wings (directed by Kenley Smith), will open there
on August 10.
assumed his new position with the theatre on July 1.
incredibly excited to be a part of the Studio Roanoke staff,” Williams said.
“Studio Roanoke has been a major part of my life for several years now, and I’m
looking forward to taking a more hands-on role with the theatre."
native of Basset, VA, Williams began attending Roanoke’s No Shame Theater in
2006, where he was a regular writer and performer for more than four years. A
collection of his No Shame pieces, Hard Times for Ugly Men, was
published in 2008, with a revised and expanded edition following in
“I’ve known Ben since his No Shame days,” said Kenley Smith, Studio Roanoke’s
artistic director. “He’s an amazing writer, and I’m delighted that I’ll be
working with him to bring Man With Wings to life. Coming on as a
full-time employee, Ben will give us a tremendous boost as we head into the new
Williams has also been a regular contestant in The International 3-Day Novel
Contest. His first novel, Big Nasty Heartbreaker, was a short-listed
entry for 2007, putting it in the top 20 out of nearly 500 submitted novels.
3x3, a collection of Williams’ first three 3-Day Novels, was published
Williams has performed live readings of his work at both Studio Roanoke and The
Bazaar, a performance venue/record store/consignment shop in Roanoke.
is also the front man and lead singer for Death Newman, a hard-rock Randy Newman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 31, 2010
Studio Roanoke is expanding its "Sunday at the Studio" programming in 2011 to
include two new recurring events -- the Workshop Reading Series and Guerrilla
Under the guidance of
Associate Artistic Director Don LaPlant, the Workshop Series will succeed the
previous Lunchbox program as a showcase for new and developing plays in a
simple, seated-reading format. The series will begin on January 23 with an 8
p.m. reading of Ed Falco's Possum Dreams and will alternate fourth
Sundays with Guerrilla Cinema.
"The move to
Sunday-night reading slots opens up some interesting programming possibilities,"
said Artistic Director Kenley Smith. "We can now consider full-length plays,
and we can give our audiences a first look at shows scheduled for upcoming
seasons." Possum Dreams, for example, will receive a full production at
Studio Roanoke in 2011-12. With its simple format, the Workshop Series also can
give voice to quality scripts that would be difficult to produce fully in the
theatre's intimate, black-box space.
Roanoke's new, HD-capable projection system, Guerrilla Cinema will feature
original work by area filmmakers and multimedia artists. Guerrilla Cinema, like
the Workshop Series, will be offered on the fourth Sunday of alternating months;
its debut will be February 27. Ben R. Williams, who has hosted Guerrilla
Playhouse since its inception last May, also will oversee the new program.
"Guerrilla Cinema and Guerrilla Playhouse share the same goal," Williams said.
"We'll offer the audience daring and original programming the likes of which
they have never seen before."
with its trademark mix of live theatre and original music, will continue on the
second Sunday of each month. The next show is January 9 at 8 p.m.
Literary Lounge and Acoustic Lounge, which round out "Sunday at the Studio"
programming, continue on the first and third Sunday of each month, respectively.
July 20, 2010
ROANOKE, VA – Gamut, a local theatre group known for its productions of
cutting-edge 20th-and-21st-century plays, will have a new
home this fall at the K.W. “Pete” Smith Theatre.
Gamut, which stands for “Gypsies And Misfits Unknown Theatre,” will produce four
plays in the space between October, 2010, and October, 2011. The group is
subleasing the facility from Studio Roanoke, a not-for-profit theatre company
that specializes in the development of new works. Studio Roanoke has been the
building’s primary tenant since it opened in 2009.
“It’s really a bonanza for theatre lovers in the region,” said Kenley Smith,
Studio Roanoke’s artistic director. “Gamut seems like a perfect fit for this
space, and I feel that their mission is wholly compatible with ours. Together,
we’ll bring in a dozen plays over the next year that have never been seen before
Miriam Frazier, artistic director of Gamut, agreed. “The
collaboration between Studio Roanoke and Gamut makes sense ideologically as well
as economically,” she said. “Many arts organizations have been weakened by the
current economic climate, but both Gamut and Studio Roanoke will become stronger
by sharing space, resources, artistic talent and audience. Between the two
groups, the Roanoke community will now have twice the innovative theatre under
one roof. And the theatre-arts community will have a great model for
cooperation and nurturing co-existence.”
Although Studio Roanoke will provide ticketing and front-of-house
services, the Gamut productions will be mounted independently of Studio
Roanoke’s own eight-play season.
Gamut’s kickoff production in the new space will be a three-night-only fund
raising event from September 30 through October 2 that features Sam Shepard’s
one-act play, “Action.” Gamut’s full season for 2011 will be announced, and the
event will be catered by Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill.
Gamut’s recent shows include “Criminal Minds,” by Robin Swicord; “Vintage Durang,”
a collection of short pieces by Christopher Durang; “Reckless,” by Craig Lucas,
and an evening of four plays by Harold Pinter, all at the Jefferson Center.
Studio Roanoke’s first production, Sandy Dietrick’s “The Biology Lesson and
Other Experiments,” opened in April, 2009. The company has put up 11 full
productions, as well as several load-in shows and recurring programs like
“Acoustic Lounge” and “Guerrilla Playhouse.” The 2010-11 season kicks off on
August 11 with “Up From the Lunar Surface,” a new play by Nicole B. Adkins.
For more information, call Studio Roanoke at 540-343-3054 or Gamut at
July 8, 2010
ROANOKE, VA – Dr. Don LaPlant has been named Associate Artistic Director of
Studio Roanoke, a black-box theatre that specializes in the development and
production of new works.
LaPlant comes to Studio Roanoke with more than 20 years of theatre experience.
A veteran playwright, director, teacher and theatre administrator, he has worked
in venues ranging from regional and summer stock theatres to academic,
children’s, and community theatre groups.
“As a playwright and director I’m energized by developing new, untested scripts,
so this kind of theatre company is exciting to me,” LaPlant said. “There’s a
certain risk inherent in working on edgy, raw material and I find that kind of
energy is really invigorating, both for me and for audiences. There’s a certain
electricity in the room when you’re watching a brand new play that just isn’t
there when you’re seeing your fifth production of a time-tested old chestnut.”
For Artistic Director Kenley Smith, who succeeded Todd Ristau in May, LaPlant’s
arrival is a decided boon. “To have someone of Don’s experience and ability on
staff is absolutely wonderful,” Smith said. “We’re a small theatre with
enormous ambitions, and Don will be an immediate help as we begin our new
LaPlant will manage Studio Roanoke’s monthly Lunchbox series, which showcases
staged readings of developing, one-act scripts. His first show will feature one
of his own plays, “Family Programming,” at 12:15 p.m. on July 14. As with all
Lunchbox programs, admission is free. LaPlant also will oversee the theatre’s
literary department, reading and evaluating scripts for potential full
productions as well as Lunchbox readings, and will develop new community
outreach programs and partnerships.
Calling upon his extensive teaching experience, which includes stints at
California State University and Emory & Henry College, LaPlant will develop and
teach theatre classes at Studio Roanoke. “I want to bring my educational
background and qualifications to the Studio to enhance the other programs
they’ve already got in place,” he said. “Roanoke Children’s Theatre and Mill
Mountain Conservatory do a great job with acting classes for kids, and I’m
looking forward to adding a few other educational theatre opportunities to the
people of the area, specifically classes in playwriting and classes for teens
and adults.” Descriptions of these new classes are available on the theatre’s
web site at http://studioroanoke.org/classroom.html.
“There aren’t many theatres committed to new work like Studio Roanoke is, and
most of the ones I know of are in much larger cities,” LaPlant said. “I think
it’s a testament to the cultural strength and sophistication of Roanoke that
this kind of theatre can thrive here while providing something different from
what you’d expect to see in cities this size across America.” He looks forward
to his new position at Roanoke’s newest theatre: “I’ve been a fan of Studio
Roanoke since I first learned about their mission, back when the theatre was
still in the planning stages. I’m really impressed with the energy and
commitment Kenley brings to the work. The meetings and conversations we’ve had
so far convince me our styles really complement each other well. I think we’re
going to be able to work really well together, both creatively and
a playwright, LaPlant has had productions and staged readings of eight of his
plays, including two commissions that were produced in state-wide tours, the
multi-prize-winning play Two Body Problems, which was published in
Southern Theatre magazine in 2007, and Appalachian Reality, which
received a mini-production at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, in 2008. As a
director, he has directed over 40 productions including new works, classics,
contemporary plays, solo performances and children’s plays. In 2008 he was
awarded a Meritorious Achievement citation for Excellence in Direction by the
Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. As a teacher, he has worked
with theatre students ranging in age from four to eighty-two, but has focused
for the past ten years on teaching traditional college-aged students. LaPlant
holds Theatre degrees from Ithaca College (BA), the University of Nebraska at
Omaha (MA), and the University of Oregon (PhD). He is a proud member of the
Dramatists Guild of America.
May 15, 2010
ROANOKE, VA — Kenley Smith has been named acting Artistic Director of Studio
Mr. Smith replaces Todd Ristau, Director of the Graduate Program in Playwriting
at Hollins University, who announced this week he is stepping down as Artistic
Mr. Smith, who resigned his position as Studio Roanoke Board President to become
acting Artistic Director, said he looks forward to working with Mr. Ristau
during the upcoming 2010-2011 season. “Although I'm personally saddened by
Todd's departure, I'll be excited to collaborate with him in new capacities this
“Studio Roanoke will continue at full strength. As I move from the board to this
new role, I'm pleased to oversee the new season of plays that Todd assembled for
us. I am dedicated, as is Todd, to bringing to the region new works of the
highest quality, and that dedication will ensure a continuing partnership.”
Kristen Moses has been named interim Board President.
An accomplished playwright, actor, and director, Mr. Ristau helped launch Studio
Roanoke and was instrumental in the theatre’s successful first year-and-a-half
of operation. During his tenure, he oversaw a full slate of programming,
including a full season of plays, poetry and acoustic lounges, free lunchtime
readings and performances every Friday night of No Shame Theatre. In addition to
his duties at Studio Roanoke, he also taught full-time at Hollins University and
part-time at Washington & Lee.
Mr. Ristau will direct two plays at Studio Roanoke for the 2010-11 season, and
his own play, “Living Between the Lines,” will be produced there in September.
The current Studio Roanoke season concludes with “Devil Sedan,” by Kenley Smith,
which opens on June 22. “Up From the Lunar Surface,” by Nikki Adkins, kicks off
the 2010-11 season in August.
For more information, please contact Kenley Smith at 540.343.3054.
To download high
resolution images from any of our shows, visit the archive page for that play and
then simply click on the image you desire. Contact us via email or by phone for
complete photo credits.