Farenheit 451 Sabin Epstein NTC

Introducing Public Domain: A new kind of old theatre company

Farenheit 451 Sabin Epstein NTC

Sabin Epstein, whose Denver Center credits include directing ‘Fahrenheit 451’ for the former National Theatre Conservatory, is starting a new company with a fresh eye on the classics.

Sabin Epstein will introduce timeless works in a contemporary, inspiring – and late-night way

I moved to Denver in 2009 to become Head of Performance Skills at the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory, and to direct for the DCPA Theatre Company. But just four months after settling in, we all found out the NTC would be closing in 2012. I thought about relocating — again — but couldn’t think of where I wanted to live. So I stayed in Denver and waited for inspiration to strike.

One morning three years later, it did.

I was in the shower when, suddenly, an idea came: Start a theatre company devoted to investigating and reinventing the classics – stories that have withstood the test of time. Thus was born Public Domain, a new Denver theatre company bringing stories in the public domain to the public domain. We call ourselves PubDō for short.

I saw the project in a single image: No more than four actors, live music, an intimate environment, an audience close enough to feel and actually experience the energy of performance.

As the idea developed, together with four actors and five musicians, and we devised an evening of three short works (each 30 minutes or less) based on themes found in Shakespeare: A one-person telling of Prospero’s liberation in The Tempest; a three-person adaptation of King Lear called The Leary’s (about a contemporary family struggling with the effects of dementia), and a four-person musicalized investigation of love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream involving only the lovers. There was no Oberon, no Titania – just people falling asleep and waking up in love with someone else.

We tested the work, the process and the concept, and we created one single performance for an invited audience of theatermakers. The reaction was enthusiastic, encouraging and enticing, so we have continued to develop the idea of the company. And here we are, now, introducing ourselves to the theatregoing public and the theater community at large in Denver.

Sabin Epstein PubDo

We’re a no-frill’s theatre: No scenery, no lighting, minimal costumes and minimal props. We arrange chairs in a circle, have actors stand within the circle and, using words, movement and live music (always live music) create a sense of community through the power of the imagination.

Our mission: To reach out to marginalized and underserved communities – people in correctional facilities, halfway houses, boys and girls clubs, assisted living facilities, students at any level – and bring the magic of theatre to those who may have rarely, if ever, experienced live performance before.

Our goal is quite simple: To uplift, entertain, enchant and delight the human spirit.

To introduce ourselves to you, we will be presenting Wilde Tales, two fairy tales by Oscar Wilde: The Birthday of the Infanta, with Mindi Kessler, and The Happy Prince, with Ryan Stack, with music created and performed by Steven Rothenberg.

Our launch is going to be a little unusual for Denver: We’ll be performing late night in Mamie’s, the rehearsal space at Curious Theatre, on the first three weekends of October. The one-hour performance starts at 10 p.m.

We’re excited about our work and our mission, and we hope you will be too.  We believe we’re telling unique stories — they’re classics, after all – in a modern manner.  Come and share the excitement and help us add a new voice to the theater community of Denver.

About the author: Sabin Epstein

Sabin Epstein directed DCPA Theatre Productions of Absurd Person Singular and To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as National Theatre Conservatory repertory productions of Tartuffe, As You Like It and Fahrenheit 451. He was a Resident Director at A Noise Within in Los Angeles, the Georgia Shakespeare Festival in Atlanta and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. He has been a Guest Director at theatres across the United States, including the DCPA Theatre Company and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. He served as the Head of Performance Skills for the Denver Center’s National Theater Conservatory, Head of Acting for the University of San Diego MFA Acting Program at at the Old Globe Theatre, Conservatory Director at ACT in San Francisco and adjunct Acting Instructor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He founded Public Domain Theater Company in 2016.

Wilde Tales: Ticket information

  • What: Public Domain Theater Company presents two fairy tales by Oscar Wilde: The Birthday of the Infanta and The Happy Prince
  • Performers: Mindi Kessler and Ryan Stack
  • Dates: Fridays and Saturdays from October 4-19
  • Time: 10 p.m.
  • Run time: One hour
  • Where: Mamie’s, the rehearsal space at Curious Theatre, 1080 Acoma Street
  • Note: To access Mamie’s, walk to the back of the parking lot adjacent to Curious – the entrance will be on your left.
  • Suggested donation: $10
  • Tickets: Available at the door (capacity 25). To reserve in advance, call 303-999-0496
  • Information: publicdomaintheater.org

Public Domain Theatre Company