Nearly a decade ago, in hopes to “tackle issues that mainstream theater usually steers away from,” Derek Davidson, artistic director of In/Visible Theatre, began planning for In/Visible Theatre to take root in Boone, North Carolina.
Davidson started In/Visible Theatre because he noticed that the kind of theatre he was interested in was not available in Boone. He wanted to create theater that served its community. For that reason, the organization utilizes local talent and strives to serve the High Country area, specifically, instead of outsourcing actors and crew members.
Today, In/Visible Theatre is a project-oriented nonprofit organization. In a typical year, the theater has one major production, along with short, low-budget “pop-up plays” and stage readings that can occur anywhere from cafés to post offices.
The theater didn’t come together right away – it wasn’t until 2012 that Davidson and a few close friends decided to try to bring In/Visible Theatre to a fringe festival.
“With Broadway, you know what to expect,” Davidson said, “but you have no idea with fringe festivals.”
Fringe festivals are theater festivals that tackle unique themes. The theater you would encounter at a fringe festival is rarely mainstream and is much more experimental and quirky than what is typically performed on Broadway or at a regional theater. In the words of Davidson, these festivals have a “real festive atmosphere. It’s like if you went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.” Unfortunately, like In/Visible Theatre, most theater groups that participate in fringe festivals are insufficiently funded.
Nevertheless, what In/Visible Theatre lacks in funding, it makes up for in originality. In/Visible Theatre began its journey with “Bumbershoot,” a play written by Davidson that follows the story of an Asian American who plays Irish fiddle. Davidson said that In/Visible Theatre puts forth an effort to constantly remain cutting-edge. Much like its first play, In/Visible Theatre puts on “dynamic, socially relevant theater” and never “shies away from the unconventional.”
“There are things around us that are worthy of examination that we miss all the time,” Davidson said. “We want to give a voice to people who aren’t always heard.” In/Visible Theatre Artistic Director Derek Davidson with Artistic Producer Karen Sabo