by Ashley Steed~
Seat capacity: Theatre – 82; Lab – 40
When founded: Theatre Asylum – 2007; Lab – 2010.
Parking: Free street.
Handicap accessible: Yes
Amenities: Wi-Fi, Full Video in both theatres, surround sound, heating, a/c.
Concessions: Yes; and you’re allowed to bring it in the theatre.
- Philly Steak Depot: 6254 Santa Monica Blvd – About 2 blocks east of the theatre. The cheesesteaks are amazing.
- Café Muse: 6547 Santa Monica Blvd. – Less then half a mile west of the theatre. A cafe with delicious food and drinks. They also have vegetarian/vegan options.
- Grub: 911 Seward St – About a half mile SW. They have the best tuna melt in LA and the “crack” bacon is legendary.
What’s on: Theatre Asylum’s Best of the Fringe.
I think the biggest lesson learned during the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival is that we, in the theatre community, not only need to support one another, but that we also need to combine forces. One thing that was mentioned in the Critics Panel hosted by LATR is that we need more producers. Thus, Producing Artistic Director and Founder of Theatre Asylum, Matthew Quinn, is just what this town needs.
Hailing from San Francisco, in 1998 he started Combined Artform, which is “on a mission to develop and combine all art forms to pioneer the ‘arts of the future,’ as well as be an active and supporting member of the San Francisco – and now Los Angeles – performance production scene,” says Quinn. The name “combined art” is a concept inspired by Richard Wagner’s idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, in which music, text, costume, and more combine into a seamless experience for the audience.
“I wanted to create a company to do works I was interested in as well as explore multimedia use in production. This has grown to building and running venues and working with other productions as a co-producer.”
Starting out as a 501c3, they eventually became a for-profit company when they built Off Market Theatres in 2003. “There were types of things we wanted to do that didn’t fit in a non-profit model.” Becoming a for-profit “broadened our ability to do a variety of different shows and do co-productions. We’ve been able to help other companies grow and develop in our space.”
Being a for-profit and having theatres in both LA and SF really makes Theatre Asylum unique. “We act as an independent producer to allow shows to develop and extend. We have worked with several companies in assisting them to grow and develop. Our own productions involve multimedia and looking to bring media into performance in new and unique ways. And we are always involved with developing community.”
When he first came to LA in 2007 and took over the Elephant’s Theatre Asylum, the original vision was to have more shows go back and forth from LA and SF. “The recession hasn’t helped people wanting to take that risk,” admits Quinn. But now with the Theatre Asylum’s The Best of the Fringe, he’s met people who are interested in traveling to San Francisco to present their work. “It’s been a long time coming,” reveals Quinn, “I have been growing these connections and I’m interested in working in both cities.”
Adding his thoughts on the theatre community, “We should be working together as much as possible. We should share our PR, marketing and talent.” He asks an important question: “Where is theatre going? We need to be looking at internet, TV, film, etc. and working with other media. I’m looking towards the future to a more unique use of multimedia and the cross-over between theatre and television, film and the internet.”
Multimedia plays a huge role in Quinn’s mission. He hosts Tilted Frame where he teaches an experimental approach to using multimedia. He asks questions like, “How can we use the camera? How can we use an image that’s not just a background?” He explains, “I wanted to create the language and technique for playwrights and show them how to incorporate video.” There is need for multimedia and video not only for use within production, but also in recording live theatre – especially for the internet. He asks, “How can we capture live theatre and get that up on the net? I try to support groups by coming in with video equipment or serving as a technical supervisor and helping them with that.”
Combined Arts has was nominated for the Bay Area Critics Circle- Best Solo Piece for Santaland Diaries, which they do every year. In LA they co-produced the Ovation Award winning Common Air; and with Open Fist they were a ROAR winner for PAPA.
Theatre Asylum is always in production. Impro Theatre and Improvatorium are two companies they continually work with. The space is also open to a myriad of workshops and classes. To see what’s classes there are, please visit their website.
Because of the wide variety of shows Theatre Asylum produces, they don’t really have a target audience. However, Quinn hopes to get the non-traditional theatre going people; and hopefully turn them into regular theatre goers.
“One thing that’s been told to me by people is that we’re not a typical LA theatre house. Now, I don’t know if that’s due to us coming from San Francisco or that we also do a lot of co-productions.” Maybe it’s because Quinn is primarily a producer. He considers it, saying, “I try to help from a producers stand point. I’m a big fan of trying to help them help themselves. Up in San Francisco I was one of the few independent commercial producers. It’s important to have support and business savvy. Perhaps it’s because of my artistic background, you know, I understand how things work. A lot [growing as a producer] came from building my own space. All that is business stuff and you need that.”