SR Theatre goes ‘Out on a Limb’

Scripps Ranch Theatre holds its performances at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant International University. (photo by John Gregory)

SR Theatre goes ‘Out on a Limb’

The last two performances of Scripps Ranch Theatre’s “Out on a Limb: New Plays from America’s Finest City” are at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 22 and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 23 at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant International University, 9783 Avenue of Nations.

The “Out on a Limb” festival, now in its sixth season, is highly recommended as a way to experience three original plays written by local playwrights, and performed and directed by some of San Diego’s best and most dedicated theater talent.

“All of the plays that are showcased in the festival have something to do with San Diego. They have a San Diego theme,” explained Susan Clausen, a spokeswoman for Scripps Ranch Theatre.

The theater group solicits playwrights from San Diego to apply for the festival. Three of the candidates are chosen and they each have an opportunity to write a short play.

“What makes ‘Out on a Limb’ different is that the focus is on San Diego and the focus is on creating art, new work by local playwrights with an inspiration from our city. Having as broad an inspiration as that opens up the door to all kinds of creative angles,” Clausen explained. “So, we’ve got some really wonderful plays that have come out of it. They start as short plays and some of them have been developed into full plays after their appearance in ‘Out on a Limb.’ It’s a wonderful growth opportunity in our community.”

DeNae Steele, as Sharon; and Joshua Jones, as Glen, perform in “Looking for Muse.” (photo by Ken Jacques)

The first play in “Out on a Limb” this year is “Looking for Muse” by Steve Oberman. It features a main character who is a student at UCSD.

“He’s looking for someone to inspire him. He puts up a want ad and somebody responds to it,” Clausen said. “It’s an interesting combination of two strangers meeting, each trying to fill a void.”

The second play is called “The Box,” written by Joe Nogra.

“This is the story of a gift that’s given to a newlywed couple and they are told not to open it until they get into their very first fight,” Clausen said. “Throughout their life together they choose to open or not to open it. There’s always this conversation about what could be in it. How could it help us? What’s its purpose?”

Clare Be, as Beverly; and M. Keala Milles, Jr., as Dempsey; star in “The Box.” (photo by Ken Jacques)

“The Strange Education of Marina Santiago-Scripps” is the third play. It’s written by the team of Diana Burbano, Tom Shelton and Chris Shelton.

“This is a really interesting one. There’s sort of a magical realism in this,” Clausen explained. “It’s the story of Ellen Browning Scripps — the philanthropist of La Jolla — and this young woman who sort of uses her for inspiration for her decision making, and has conversations with her. It’s a wonderful examination of characters who are from San Diego.”

“The Strange Education of Marina Santiago-Scripps” features Dillon Hoban as Torrey; Natalia Maggio as Marina; and Jill Drexler as Ellen Browning Scripps. (photo by Ken Jacques)

Scripps Ranch Theatre is funded by private grants, city grants and individual donations. Only a small portion of the budget comes from ticket sales for plays held at The Legler Benbough Theatre, which holds about 118 people. Scripps Ranch Theater had its start in 1978 and has grown into a hotbed of new, original works.

“This started years ago as a community theater and has developed into a more professional level theater company where the same performers who are performing at main stages all over the county are performing at Scripps Ranch,” Clausen said. “Same with directors. Same with playwrights. It’s really become a leader as far as new works are concerned.”

Today, Scripps Ranch Theatre has a number of theater programs beyond its regular stage performance season. For instance, it runs New Works Studio, which is a program that helps mentor playwrights over a 9-month period with workshops to help them create a production-ready script for a new play.

It also has an Education and Out Reach Program that takes theater into the schools. In addition, Scripps Ranch Theatre partners with the YMCA to provide a theater summer camp.

“Our goal is to really reach our community artistically at every age,” Clausen said.

“It’s really grown into an organization that focuses on developing new work while maintaining an interesting blend of performances throughout the year: comedies and dramas and musicals and new works,” she added.

The theater’s 2017 season kicks off Sept. 8 with its production of “Accomplice.”

To learn more, or for tickets to “Out on a Limb,” visit scrippsranchtheatre.org.

If you have a news tip or idea for a story, contact John Gregory: john@scrippsranchnews.com

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