The term funky is perhaps overused to describe low-budget, independent theatrical endeavors, but in the case of the Sol Theatre Project in Fort Lauderdale, the word just fits. In its colorfully decorated warehouse, the troupe stages offbeat productions with quirky characters, and unlike at some fancier venues, fiddling with food is not frowned upon. Spectators are welcome to snack on popcorn and candy and sometimes sip wine while watching the shows.
In establishing Sol Theatre last year, Robert Hooker, the producing artistic director, set out to create an entertainment experience that would be distinctive, from the look of the 50-seat theater to its untraditional style of entertainment.
The warehouse space, decorated with burnt-orange walls, bookshelves, and theater posters, features a random collection of couches and chairs, where spectators curl up for shows that range from lively and spontaneous to those chosen for their edgy qualities.
The theater, which also offers acting classes and children's productions, features an ensemble of performers who occasionally offer informal, interactive shows that include elements of open-mic, improvisation, and skits. For those, Hooker serves as an MC who delights in heckling from the crowd. Occasionally, a bell sounds, and everyone of legal drinking age gets free wine.
For Murmurs, a series of monologues featuring some weird and twisted characters, the troupe is holding a set of "Process Preview" shows before the official opening. Spectators are invited to watch the production, then join the cast and crew for an informal discussion.
Admission for these preview shows is free, although donations are accepted. The goal, Hooker says, is to include the audience in the creative process. He maintains that the audience's comments will be used to help the company polish the production. Armchair directors, rejoice.