Monday, July 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

New drama group seeks to take Tacoma theater to the edge

// 'This is not the kind of play that fits in anyone's season in Tacoma.'

David Domkoski is ready to push the envelope.

He has been involved in the local drama scene since moving to the area in 1976. His most recent work was directing “Something Wicked This Way Comes” at Lakewood Playhouse.

Domkoski recently started Assemblage Theater, created for the specific purpose of staging “Terminus” by Irish playwright Mark Rowe. It made its debut at Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 2007. It has also been performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

A voracious reader, Domkoski read the script and knew he had to direct the play. It consists of nine interlocking monologues, all delivered during one night in Dublin. Domkoski describes it as “people’s lives torn apart and changed forever.”

He compares the dialogue to the work of Sam Sheppard. It consists of three people delivering monologues. They touch on controversial topics such as abortion. Due to the graphic nature of the dialogue, Domkoski knew established theaters in the area would not be interested in adding it to their season lineup. He notes those drama groups must sell season tickets and do fundraising, making it unlikely they would risk offending supporters with an edgy play such as “Terminus.” Youth under 17 will not be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“Tacoma Musical Playhouse does wonderful things. Tacoma Little Theatre does wonderful plays, even some challenging things like ‘Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.’ But they have season ticket holders and staff,” he said. “The economics are different for them. I do not have any season ticket holders to alienate. This is not the kind of play that fits in anyone’s season in Tacoma.”

For now his focus is on “Terminus,” but Assemblage could stage other works in the future. He thinks there is an audience in Tacoma that would go to plays with edgy subject matter.

“We cannot just do things that are ‘safe’ anymore.”

Domkoski is producing the play, thus taking on responsibility for the financial cost of staging it.

The play will be performed at The Space, a small venue downtown. It has hosted other events and will hold some musical performances for this weekend’s Squeak and Squawk event. It is owned by Athena Hitson.

The cast is Nicole Lockett, Kathi Aleman and Tim Hoban. Aleman and Hoban live in Tacoma. Lockett lived in Tacoma until recently moving to Seattle.

Hoban has worked in theaters around the region and has toured the nation performing as Edgar Allan Poe. Lockett and Aleman have performed in various plays in the area. Lockett was in Tacoma Little Theatre’s recent production of “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde,” while Aleman was in TLT’s “California Suite.”

Hoban has known Domkoski for 20 years. Aleman has worked with him off and on, and Domkoski directed a play Lockett was in last year.

Lockett is intrigued by doing an edgy play. “That is lacking in Tacoma,” she said.

Hoban said prior efforts to stage such material in Tacoma have been unsuccessful. “Tacoma is in need of a small, black box theater.”

She said the dialogue is challenging due to the amount of rhyming. “It has a beautiful rhythm but we must hit each syllable exactly.”

The characters have much to convey, she added. “We all have this intense loneliness.”

Domkoski said “Terminus” is among the more challenging works he has tackled. “It is a challenging play. It is dark but ultimately satisfying.”

Cindy Arnold, a painter with studio space on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way as part of the Spaceworks project, allows Domkoski and the cast to rehearse in the building on Saturday afternoons.

Assemblage Theater follows the lead of other “stageless” theater companies seeking to do edgy works, including Gold From Straw Theatre Company, Horatio Theater, Toy Boat Theatre Company, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, Last Ditch Efforts, Vest Pocket Productions and a host of one-show productions through the recent decades.

“Terminus” runs from April 12, 13, 20, 21, 27 and 28. All shows are at 8 p.m. The Space is located at 729 Court ‘C’ (Opera Alley). Tickets are $14.50, available at the door or at http://www.brownpapertickets. For more information visit