Production company taking theater out of the theater, holding performances on Asheboro tennis court

North Carolina

ASHEBORO, N.C. — Asheboro’s entertainment scene is showing new signs of a comeback.

Surprisingly, it’s one of the few places managing to have a somewhat stable theater presence during the pandemic.

What has worked for RhinoLeap Productions is taking theater out of the theater.

The company is preparing for one of its most unusual performances yet.

It’s holding its upcoming production, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), on a tennis court at Asheboro’s Memorial Park.

“I think the idea of seeing something on the tennis court is just weird in a good way. It’s a good weird so that by itself is making people curious,” RhinoLeap Productions Artistic Director Jeremy Skidmore said.

During a year filled with a lot of volleying on how to operate safely, using non-traditional environments or found spaces has given the local theater scene a way to survive.

Last fall, RhinoLeap held productions in an abandoned textile mill and an old auto body shop while theaters were closed.

That kind of adapting helped put Lexington native, actor Allen Tedder back to work after his job on Broadway was put on hold.

“It was nice to be like well even in a pandemic, somebody calls. It feels good,” he said.

North Carolina’s current capacity limits would allow the RhinoLeap team to go back into their traditional space with about 150 people, but they’re not necessarily interested in going back to the way things were.

They say this time has forced them to look at other opportunities including providing online content.

“I think that having this virtual presence or this video presence is gonna be a huge boon for younger audiences to start to reattach themselves to live theater,” actor Patrick Osteen said.

Times have changed, the main goal hasn’t.

“In my opinion, it’s a public service. It’s something that benefits the community,” Osteen said.

“My personal message is that let’s all laugh at each other right now because we spent the last year and a half moping and crying a little bit,” Tedder said.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) runs May 1-16 at Memorial Park on South Church Street.

Tickets can be purchased online now.

The team is keeping shows to 50 people and will practice social distancing.

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