By Faith Anderson, South Pointe HS (Rock Hill, South Carolina)
Trustus Theatre, located in the in the heart of Columbia on Lady Street, is a small theatre company that contradicts the traditional theatre. Founded by Kay and Jim Thigpen, the brick building is adorned with rainbow flags and potted flowers encouraging acceptance.
“Whether we look at political social values, that’s our audience: young and liberal,” the theatre’s artistic director Chad Henderson said.
Upon entering, the patrons are greeted with warm and eclectic decor. Velvet loveseats line the walls, and before the performance, a bar welcomes the guests by serving an array of drinks including chardonnay, on tap beers, and complimentary popcorn. The main stage is inviting and allows audience members to feel close to the actors both physically and emotionally through the characters they play. Beyond the framework and decor, what stands out the most are the shows that are put on the stage.
According to Trustus’ website, their mission is “to select challenging scripts that will start and nurture dialogues that promote discussion within the community with productions that are brought to life through dynamic storytelling and inventive designs.”
The purpose behind their mission is fueled by the “real desire to explore the human condition,” Henderson said.
Trustus takes pride in choosing shows that are not only entertaining but also relate to the audience in the most vulnerable and authentic ways. Shows that are presented at Trustus are carefully chosen with the intention of impacting the audience and addressing issues that are visible in today’s society. An example would be the musical Memphis that will be performed from June 29th through July 28th.
“There are so many different types of humans in the world, so there are so many stories,” Henderson said.
An example of a show that embodies the mission of Trustus is the Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home. This show jumps through time following the life of Alison Bechdel, a young woman struggling to understand her sexuality and her Father’s role in the development of her life. Fun Home made its appearance on Trustus’ mainstage on March 23rd through April 14th of 2018.
Shows like Fun Home that embody the lives of the people around us are coined by the Trustus staff as “Trustus shows” because the theatre approaches production with a fresh sense of intentionality that promotes conversation, understanding, and unity in the community.
“The show talks about some pretty complicated issues, and it’s not incredibly feel-good entertainment, but it’s good theatre. Fun Home is a great example of a great Trustus show,” Henderson said.
[Check out the exterior and interior of both theatres on the CJI team’s official Instagram account.]