Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 4:49 pm | Mostly Cloudy 70º


Curtain Going Up on Young Theater Artists On the Verge

Community Arts Workshop program offers palatte of diverse plays

On the Verge associate directors Josiah Davis, left, Riley Berris, Jessica Ballonoff, and artistic director Kate Bergstrom at the Community Arts Workshop.
On the Verge associate directors Josiah Davis, left, Riley Berris, Jessica Ballonoff, and artistic director Kate Bergstrom at the Community Arts Workshop. (Ben Crop)

Three local artists and teachers, each alumni of Santa Barbara high schools are bringing plays to the Santa Barbara theater scene this month at On the Verge Theatre Festival. On the Verge will present its work Aug. 3-13.

Kate Bergstrom, Riley Berri  and Jessica Ballonoff, along with associate director Josiah Davis of Los Angeles, bring their diversity of perspectives with a splash of new plays dealing with the issues of our time.

In mid-July they take residence as a sponsored project at the Community Arts Workshop (CAW), 631 Garden St., a space that allows them to experiment and take these artistic risks.

“The work that On the Verge brings to our space is really special,” said Casey Caldwell, site manager for the CAW. “We don’t generally see this kind of material presented in Santa Barbara.

"The company is wonderfully diverse and inclusive, and the plays they present ask pressing questions that our community wants to talk about," Caldwell said.

"We are so delighted to be able to sponsor their use of the space, helping to empower this young entrepreneurial company as it grows.”
“We literally couldn’t do this without the CAW,” said Jessica Hambright, On the Verge associate director.

“Our first year [without the CAW as a space] was so hard. We spent so much money on spaces all over town, and we could only afford lighting for one show at a time, so we had to set it up and take it down every night," she said.

"We were rehearsing all over the place, we never saw each other. It was exhausting. Having that home base [at the CAW] is critical for us. It allows us to function as a company, to converse and collaborate and grow,” she said.
This is On the Verge’s second year working at the Arts Workshop.

They will be combining their local roots (local actors, local playwrights, internships for high school students) with the best from America’s theater scene (world premieres, national playwrights, innovative theatrical concepts, professional Los Angeles actors).

They will be presenting three mainstage works, and a bevy of new short plays.

Michael Perlman’s At the Table is a play of fiery ideas rooted in the close relationships of a group of friends gathered in a mountain cabin for a weekend.

Visitors to their clique throw off their assumptions about each other, and suddenly it is not so clear who can stay At the Table.

Thais Francis’s Outcry is a poetic illumination of the epidemic of police brutality in facing African-Americans today, full of dance, humor and heightened language.

A Likely Pair is a modern fairy tale about siblings, family and the poison that can enter them.

In addition, a duo of new short plays, FEMFEST: A Play by Maggie Yates and peanutbutterjellybagelcreamcheese by Danielle Draper and Lindsey Twigg, will premiere.

There will be as well the reading of Meanwhile There Are Letters by Declan Hughes presented with UCSB’s Launch Pad Program and the Margaret Millar Charitable Trust.
“Working with CAW enables us to deliver a much more environmental experience for our audience members,” said Kate Bergstrom, On the Verge artistic director.

“Our entire theatrical goal is to make sure that our audience feels a part of the material we present to them--engaging with the ideas, discussing them, taking them home," she said.
“The On the Verge Festival is an event more than it’s just a theater production. There will be live music. There will be multiple opportunities for discussion and conversation. It is an experience," she said.

For more information about On the Verge performances or company, visit

More information about the Community Arts Workshop is at

— Casey Caldwell for On the Verge Theatre.


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