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Breaking a Leg, Breaking the Mold

Breaking a Leg, Breaking the MoldTuftstheater student Kristin Baker co-founded an unconventional theatercompany in Boston that seeks to reinvent the concept of theateras we know it.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.13.04] Tufts student Kristin Baker and her colleague, findingconventional theater at times too expensive or inaccessible, haveworked to create a theater experience in Boston that is engaging,inventive and affordable. The result is The Rough and Tumble Theatre.

“Webelieve good theater begets theatergoers,” Baker, who ispursuing her Ph.D. in theater at Tufts, told the Boston Herald.“What we're trying to do is rediscover how to relate toaudiences and make them feel taken care of.”

The Roughand Tumble Theatre, seven years young, is the brainchild of Baker,who is the managing director, and Dan Milstein, artistic directorand a Yale graduate. The effort was born of their desire to createa small-theater environment that would excite the audience butnot drain their pockets.

There weresome personal motivations, as well: ''I was tired of being inplays that just weren't all that good," Baker told the Herald.

Baker –whose day job is with the Massachusetts Cultural Council –and Milstein set to work staging innovative performances thatdiscarded conventional structure and dialogue, “Blah BlahBlah” and “The Silent Movie Play.” Instead,the actors emphasized movement, music and audience interaction.

Increasingly,elements of film began to creep into the theater company’sperformances, culminating in last year’s “Backwater:A Movie-Play,” that focused around a failed movie directormoving back home with her parents.

With its affectingplotline and creative melding of film and stage techniques, “Backwater”was received favorably by both critics and patrons, recordingseveral sellout nights.

“Peoplereally responded to ‘Backwater’ as a movie-play,''Baker told the Herald. “They loved the velvet rope outsideand the free popcorn inside. With ‘Red Brick Line’[a 2002 production centered on the Freedom Trail] people lovedbeing part of a mob, and enjoyed having casual passers-by observethem as part of the action.''

The theatercompany’s newest play, “I’m Away From My DeskRight Now…,” is receiving positive reviews. TheBoston Globe called it “a tasty supplement to yourusual theater consumption.”

The “indieplay,” as they call it, is being staged at the CalderwoodPavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts through Dec. 18, withticket prices ranging between $12 and $15.

“Wewant it to sound like what an independent movie is to a mainstreammovie,” Baker described the play to the Herald.“This is an indie version of a normal play.''

Rough andTumble strives to be original, thriving on improvisation and interactivitywhile drawing inspiration from pop culture. Broadway it’snot, but Baker and Milstein wouldn’t have it any other way.







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