Student-run theater company produces interactive play

Vanessa Sliva

In an effort to challenge the typical theater format, UT’s Uh Theatre Company is capitalizing on audience participation in a new-immersive experience. In their production of “For Sale by Owner,” audience members are guided through an estate in groups by the lead actress.

The play follows Charley, who inherits a house from her deceased father and is trying to sell the property to the audience. As she walks through each room, memories of the house resurface, and the audience watches as Charley’s attitude completely transforms. 

Uh Theatre Company was founded by a group of UT students last summer. Since then, they have produced five shows, including their latest piece, “For Sale by Owner.” During September, the company set up an Indiegogo fundraising account for the play and was able to raise over $1,000 within a month. Matt Hill, radio-television-film and theatre and dance senior, is currently the co-artistic director.

“It’s one thing to be able to write the piece, rehearse the piece and perform the piece,” Hill said. “All those elements truly make theater as lovable as it is, but, for this project in particular, unlike other projects we’ve done, it was crowd-sourced by members of the community and people we’ve encountered through our theatrical journeys.”

“For Sale by Owner” will be performed out of a house in the Brentwood area. Hill explained that the idea for this play was inspired by the memories made within the house, and that many of the cast members have lived or are currently living there. 

“Audiences are exposed to experience art in the very narrow mindset of, ‘I’m going to sit down and watch what’s in front of me and take it for what it is,’” Hill said. “But performance art can be creative and exhibited in any number of ways.”

Theatre and dance senior Kenny Chilton is the producer of the play and personally requested the play to be performed in the house. Chilton hopes to redeem any personal connections he may have missed within the house while he lived there. 

“We really love the house,” Chilton said. “I lived in this house for a year, and a lot of what the play has to do with is memories and how you deal with your past and the things you regret in your past.”

Theatre and dance senior Callie Hacker said that Uh Theatre Company relies on making progress with their productions by having a tight-knit cast. The “For Sale by Owner” cast is made up of about 10 people, most of whom have previously worked together. 

“This is definitely the group I have the most hope in for theater,” Hacker said. “The world of theater is changing, especially in Broadway. Corporations are trying to get their hands on theater, and it’s so nice knowing that there are some people out there that want to do theater because they’re artistic and creative.”

Hacker explained that the company attracts different kinds of interests, from engineers to radio-television-film students, but everyone is brought together by a passion for theater. Even the audiences are made up of
diverse backgrounds. 

“There are those who want to do theater as a hobby and those who have to do [theater] — it’s a part of them in one shape, way or form,” Hacker said. “This group has the best combination of the two.”