COCKROACH THEATRE: A LAS VEGAS THEATRE COMPANY
Line by Israel Horovitz; December 2002
Cockroach Theatre began with a midnight performance of LINE by Israel Horovitz in December of 2002 (above). Friends for years, and having studied together in the theater department at University of Nevada Las Vegas we decided to produce the type of theatre we hadn't seen in Las Vegas. Directed by the late local critic Tony DelValle, Israel Horovits' LINE was an unexpected critical and popular success.
Excitement carried us to another midnight production, Sam Shepard's Cowboy Mouth, as an outdoor immersive run in the back-lot of an antique store in what was [then] a quite seedy part of downtown Las Vegas. The ball had begun to roll. A nomadic bunch, we produced plays frenectially over the next six months, performing in any space we could find, saving money, and picking up new members along the way. Our first year as a theatre company culminated in establishing ourselves as a recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, a growing list of site-specific productions, and a month-long run of a world preimiere at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2003).
Upon arriving back to Vegas from the Fringe, a core group began seeking an identity. Cockroach continued its nomdic tendicies, including a series of environmental theatre productions ensued in found spaces across the Las Vegas Valley. Producing a critically acclaimed production of Albert Camus's Caligula in a small downtown performance space in the Arts Factory. This is where Cockroach found its aesthetic. Performing in found spaces, junkyards, parks, warehouses, showrooms, taught us to be resourceful and we to adapted the plays we wanted to produce into any space that would suit the story being told. Not unlike our namesake, COCKROACH became a metaphore synonymous with survival, resilience, and turning resource constraint into a opportunity to create exciting, visceral theatre.
We decided that if Cockroach Theatre was going to find permanence, we needed a permanent, or at least consistent place to produce. Cockroach Theatre opened Creative Studios LV in a large, live/work warehouse and produced and developed numerous successful productions there, namely Will Eno's The Flu Season, and John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.
Our vision from the beginning was to find a home downtown. By 2011, a local developer and longtime patron had begun work reinventing a dusty old warehouse in the Arts District into a beautiful creative complex of galleries and studios, what became ART SQUARE, and approached us about creating an intimate performance space within: ART SQUARE THEATRE (www.Artsquaretheartelv.com) Although we had limited resources, we were determined to find away to make it happen. Crowd-funding was just gaining steam; so we created an online campaign to help make our long-held dream a reality through the support of 167 incredible donors (listed on our 'supporters' page), and months of planning and hard work by dedicated volunteers, we opened Art Square Theatre; Cockroach Theatre's new home in the heart of downtown's 18b Arts District.