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GAMUT Theater Group Finds New Home For 2011

The GAMUT group rehearses a play in 2010.

by Gene Marrano

In one form or another, the GAMUT amateur theatre group has been around for quite a while, decades even, offering a series of eclectic and often challenging plays.  The troupe took a hiatus for the most part in 2010 but returns in 2011 with three staged works, this time at a new home – Studio Roanoke on Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke.

GAMUT (Gypsies and Misfits Unknown Theater) had been at Jefferson Center’s rehearsal hall space for a time before that and did offer one Sam Shepard play, “Action,” at Studio Roanoke last year, but 2011 will mark the black box theater’s “official” debut at GAMUT’s new home.

The company is holding open auditions for the 2011 season on Saturday, January 22 and Sunday January 23 from noon to 2 p.m. at Studio Roanoke.  Artistic director Miriam Frazier, who also directs most of the GAMUT plays, says “nothing needs to be prepared; come as you are. They should not be worried – you can have any level of experience.”

“At least one of the 2011 shows has multiple parts, ideal for someone without a lot of experience,” said Frazier, who works for Virginia Tech by day. Last year was an off year for the most part. “We had to rest,” said Frazier, who added that the ensemble group approaches each new work without a star system. “It’s all very collaborative and process based — the only group in town willing to tackle the type of plays we do, with the only actors in town game to work on them.”

The 2011 season includes “Pvt. Wars” by James McClure (three male parts needed, ages 21-35) with performances on April 14-16 and 21-23; “The Lover” by Harold Pinter (1 male, 1 female ages 35 – 50) with performances on July 7-9 and 14-16; and finally, “Bury The Dead” by Irwin Shaw (20+ male, female with wide range of ages) with performances on October 13-15 and 20-22.

Frazier won’t give out too many details on what each play is about. “Pvt. Wars” involves three Vietnam veterans recuperating at a VA hospital – “It’s actually a comedy … with a really huge heart,” notes Frazier, “and very funny.”  She won’t talk much about the plot for “The Lover,” other than to say it involves a husband and wife. “It’s intriguing … mysterious,” she offers.

“Bury the Dead” may be described as intense – a play written in the 1930s, set on a battlefield where a military detail is burying fallen comrades. “They stand up in the graves and refuse to be buried,” said Frazier; “it takes off from there.” She will direct all three plays in 2011 but says GAMUT hopes to develop some alternate directors for future works soon.

As for the new home-base at Studio Roanoke, which also offers its own menu of plays under the guise of owner/artistic director Kenley Smith, Frazier anticipates a smooth assimilation process. “The audience that had been over at Jefferson Center followed us over just fine [for “Action”]. I think it’s going to be a real positive thing.”  Frazier feels the small, “intimate” Studio Roanoke space fits the bill. “A very good fit for GAMUT, for sure.”

Tickets can be purchased at the Studio Roanoke box office for the 2011 GAMUT season. See or contact Miriam Frazier at [email protected] for more information about tickets or the upcoming auditions.

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  1. Gamut is real theater in Roanoke. It has no peer. It is not community theater, beloved as that can be, nor is it professional theater, as socially prominent as that can be. It is not a venue for education in theater or play writing, as valuable as those endeavors are to us all. It is the nitty-gritty, down and dirty, faithful presentation of a gifted director’s interpretive assessment of the human condition according to a skilled playwright. Hard stuff, but, boy, is it inspiring, or funny, or compelling to see, and even more so, in which to practice and test your acting ability.

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