A local theater veteran is forming a new nonprofit theater company in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.Torok Lewis is the founding director of Abuzz Theatre Company, based in Clarkston. It’s not the first theater company Lewis has overseen. He resigned as artistic director for the Lewiston Civic Theatre last November.
Lewis says his vision for the professional performing arts group is to present provocative contemporary performances with younger audiences in mind.
“I really want to keep this edge of a fresh, more modern theater company,” says Lewis, 43, who formed the company with a group of theater-loving friends. He has obtained nonprofit status in Washington and is in the process of applying for federal nonprofit status.
Tickets are on sale for the group’s first production, “Substance of Things Hoped For: A Trilogy from the 1980s,” by Lewiston native Andrew Adam Caldwell. The show will be staged Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 at Lewis-Clark State College’s Silverthorne Theatre where it debuted 25 years ago. Caldwell and members of the original cast will attend the production, Lewis says.
Abuzz Theatre does not have a building, which will help keep production costs down, Lewis says. He plans to take shows on the road to surrounding communities like Pomeroy and Kooskia, which have stages but not regular programming. His five- to 10-year plan is to have a facility. Other ideas for the company include a regional playwright and director showcase and an area talent show.
“It’s going to be exactly what we make it. The possibilities are endless,” Lewis says.
Lewis works as a caregiver in Clarkston. He was introduced to acting as a child in church plays and started performing at the Lewiston Civic Theatre when he was 18. He went on to spend 24 years working on and off stage in every position available and was hired in February 2012 as the theater’s artistic director. He resigned nine months later. At the time he told the theater’s board of directors at a public meeting that the job was too stressful and had become a burden.
“I wanted something different. It just wasn’t right,” Lewis says about the dynamics between him and the board of directors that led to his decision to resign.
He says he decided to form a new company because he missed theater and saw the opportunity to do something new.
“My passion for theater is crazy mad,” he says as tears fill his eyes. “I love it. I cannot get enough of it. I see as much as I can. I thrive on it.”
The company is open to all, Lewis says. “If you don’t know what you can do we can talk about it.”
Lewis says Abuzz’s first meeting in September drew more than 20 interested people. Applications are being accepted for its board of directors through Friday. Elections will take place in November. Information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online at abuzztheatre.com. The group can also be found on Facebook.