Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2019

Currently: 78° — Complete forecast

A new space has Cockroach Theatre making big plans

Cockroach Theatre

Bill Hughes

The gentlemen of Cockroach Theatre—Levi Fackrell, Erik Amblad and Will Adamson.

It’s 10 a.m. on a Monday morning and the heat hasn’t really started yet, so it’s still cool inside the nearly finished Art Square complex, Brett Sperry’s latest addition to the Arts District. I’m standing in a loft in the corner space of the building, looking down at the main floor, a jumble of carpenter’s tools, cans of paint and the occasional art piece. But soon—depending on construction schedules and fire marshal approval—the space will open as the Art Square Theatre, Cockroach Theatre’s new home. And until that happens, the heat is definitely on for the Cockroach team.

“We’re taking a leap of faith on this, that’s for sure,” says Levi Fackrell, managing director of Cockroach. Fackrell, friends with Sperry, was the first to see the empty space and began discussions with Sperry to turn it into a theater. With Sperry’s encouragement, and a generous lease, Cockroach will have its first permanent home—and Fackrell feels the time is right. “The buzz about Downtown has always been, ‘It’s gonna happen; it’s gonna happen’—but now it’s really tangible. It is happening. You can really feel the energy.”

But you need more than energy to run a theater. To help raise that capital, the Cockroach team has turned to the Internet and an Indiegogo (it’s similar to Kickstarter) campaign to raise $20,000 by June 15. Just like the weather, that’s heating up, too. People from Summerlin to Abu Dhabi have donated.

“That’s what’s great about our Indiegogo campaign, you really get a gauge of who’s behind you,” says Fackrell. Also important: Visible support of the campaign has emboldened other backers who might not be able to contribute through Indiegogo, but are just as important to the theater’s success.

“The platform has really helped us get some larger corporate sponsors,” says Will Adamson, producer at Cockroach. “They can have confidence that we’re not just a small group of people.” Cockroach has some specific fund-raising events planned to reach out to those sponsors and to some high-profile donors.

Cockroach isn’t only adding a new space. In April it named Erik Amblad its new artistic director; it has a new resident playwright, Erica Griffin; and its inaugural production in Art Square Theatre will be the winner of the Sin City New Play contest: Nurture, by Johnna Adams. That will be followed by something else that’s new for Cockroach: a full season of plays, rather than one-off productions.

“We get to express a point of view through a series of plays,” Amblad says. “This infrastructure allows us that freedom, and I’m hoping that people will see we have a real dedication to new works and neglected works with a new point of view.”

It’s exciting, and possibilities fill up the room with the rising heat.

“In Vegas, we don’t have the luxury of taking amazing regional theater for granted yet,” Amblad says. “One of our goals is to get to the point that people take it for granted that we’re one of the great regional theaters in Las Vegas and America.

“Ultimately, we want to be seen as Las Vegas’ professional theater company,” Fackrell says.

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