Blue Sphere Alliance, a hot Off-Broadway-style theatre company in Los Angeles since 1996, has spun off a New York sister company, Blue Sphere East, run by Kim Tobin, Robert Harriel and Christian Campbell.
The company makes its Off-Off-Broadway debut Oct. 20 with Steven Dietz's Trust, at Raw Space in Manhattan. Performances of the play — about lies and deceptions within a group in the orbit of a rock star — continue to Nov. 12 under the direction of Cynthia Croot.
The critically-acclaimed, artistically diverse L.A. company was founded by Anthony Barnao, Christian Campbell and Russell Daniels, presenting at the Lex Theatre in Hollywood since 1996. The group was founded to produce "socially relevant, provocative plays that would enlighten, educate and entertain," but 28-year-old Campbell admitted to Playbill On Line that so many plays are naturally socially-significant that the programming has covered a wide range of styles.
Campbell, known as the star of the feature film, "Trick" and as a cast member in Fox's upcoming TV series, "The Street," said he, Tobin and Harriel share artistic director credit for Blue Sphere East. Canadian raised Campbell has performed on L.A. stages (most recently in Reefer Madness). When he got the job on "The Street," which shoots in New York, he took Tobin up on the idea of creating an East Coast branch of Blue Sphere.
"I moved to New York and I like to stay busy and I love the theatre as well," said Campbell, whose sister is the actress Neve Campbell. "If I don't get to be on the stage right away, I at least want to do something toward getting other people on the stage." He said that on his hiatus from the new Wall Street-themed series he hopes to appear on Manhattan stages, particularly with the nonprofit Blue Sphere. An impending TV-writers strike may allow him to get his wish.
Blue Sphere East will take the first year slowly, he said, "as they figure out" the New York market. Campbell was a child actor and was trained in theatre.
The Blue Sphere Alliance became hit very quickly in Los Angeles after its founding in 1996. In 1997, Blue Sphere Alliance presented the West Coast premiere of W. Colin McKay's Nagasaki Dust, for 14 weeks. The press embraced the show, and the staging about the Japanese and American conflict in World War II put the company on the map.
The troupe swelled to 50 members by the end of 1997. The company followed up with world premieres (Home Sweet Hell and Kabbalah: Scary Jewish Stories), children's shows (My Bed is a Boat), one-acts, revivals (Lovers and Other Strangers and the first American revival of Tennessee Williams' Something Cloudy, Something Clear), solo shows and theme programs ("The Vietnam Chonicles," which included A Piece of My Heart and Tracers).
Building off the momentum of the L.A. Blue Sphere success, company members Tobin, Harriel and Campbell decided to create Blue Sphere East.
The Blue Sphere East cast of Trust includes Spencer Aste, Robert Harriel, Elizabeth Lambert, Kim Tobin, Sara Wolverson and Catherine Zambry.
Playwright Dietz is known as one of the most-produced contemporary playwrights in the United States. His plays include Lonely Planet, Still Life With Iris, Silence and Private Eyes. Trust first premiered with the Barrow Group in 1995.
Designers are David Barber (sets and costumes), Todd Griffin (sound) and Marcus Doshi (lights).
Tickets to Trust are $19. Raw Space is at 529 W. 42nd Street between 10th an 11th avenues. For tickets, call Smarttix at (212) 206 1515 or go to www.smarttix.com.
— By Kenneth Jones