“Without sounding cliché, I think all theater companies want to challenge their audiences, and keep them thinking,” says Ann Marie Pereth, artistic director of A Public Fit, a young theater company about to debut its first full performance this week, the psychological thriller Foxfinder at Art Square Theatre.
Lights shift and fade then rise in the theater as we make our way through the upheaval to a still point on the stage, and Pereth and her associate-producing director Kate St-Pierre survey the set taking shape around them. “We really want to challenge people with our ideas,” Pereth continues. “We want to pick material that is somewhat obscure, and provocative.”
Which is just about how they operate in every aspect of their fledgling company. When St-Pierre attended a reading of Foxfinder hosted by Pereth, she immediately pushed the director to do more with it. “And as it was winding down, I turned to Ann Marie and I whispered, ‘What are you doing with this play? This is fabulous!’ And that’s when we started talking.” Less than a year later, the play is up on its feet. It’s an ambitious schedule for a young troupe, but no less ambitious than Pereth and St-Pierre’s aims for the company.
“We have all these brilliant transplants in town,” St-Pierre says. “And if you’re in Chicago or New York City, there are other vehicles for actors and artists to work on. You can see yourself going from one show to another show. But there aren’t those options in Las Vegas. You can’t pay your mortgage if you leave your Strip show. So we wanted to provide another opportunity to be able to use your talent.”
Right now that opportunity is manifesting in Foxfinder, which opens November 13. The dystopian play is set in the near future after an unexplained catastrophe has turned back the clock, with people living in near-feudal conditions under government surveillance and the threat of death camps. When an inquisitor comes to the home of a couple whose farm isn’t meeting its quota, the risk is palpable.
“There’s a psychological element to it; there’s a thriller element to it,” explains Pereth, who says she has enjoyed bringing the mysteries of the play to tense life. “Dawn King, the playwright, has taken the time to craft these hidden ideas, and they evolve over the play. So I liked it for that reason, for the mystery of it. And having to wait to find out what’s going to happen next.” Which is in stark contrast to real life, where Pereth and St-Pierre are busy creating what they want to happen next for Vegas theater.
Foxfinder November 13-23; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $25. Art Square Theatre, artsquaretheatrelv.com.