Denver’s growing, and so is its theater scene. Welcome Benchmark Theatre, housed for now at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St. The inaugural play will be Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, which opened …
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Denver’s growing, and so is its theater scene. Welcome Benchmark Theatre, housed for now at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St. The inaugural play will be Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, which opened March 31 and runs through April 23. Performances are Thursday-Saturday, 8:00p.m., and Sundays, 6:00p.m.
The Nether is a mystery, and Haley and company don’t want to give too much plot away, but the production looks to the future and asks, how do we enforce law in a completely virtual reality? How do we enforce law in a world that is not real? The play’s lead, a young, female detective, does the asking.
As for backstory on the theatre itself, Benchmark Theatre launched in July 2016 but, according to Producing Artistic Director Haley Johnson, the company wanted to build a solid foundation before producing a first play.
At heart, the company is the product of friendship and like minds pursuing a single passion. “We were individual artists who thought we could collaborate well together,” Johnson says.
The Nether director Rachel Bouchard concurs. “Haley and I started talking about doing a project together; as the discussions developed, we decided to make it a more long-term collaboration,” she says. “We worked well together. Our brains are on the same wavelength.”
Perfect chemistry for a first play about cognition and rules of conduct.
The Benchmark Theatre has three basic missions. First is their artistic mission: to bring out questions about our shared human experience through storytelling. The company wants to communicate with its audiences by encouraging thought through plays that do not provide ready-made answers. Secondly, Benchmark seeks to focus on the quality and uniqueness of their productions. They believe Denver is on the brink of an artistic explosion and want to be on the forefront. The third mission is to collaborate with other arts organizations while also building strong relationships with other businesses and organizations.
On the horizon: Benchmark Theatre is also starting the Fever Dream Festival. Slated for June, Fever Dream is a genre-focused festival featuring works which do not get a lot of exposure: science fiction, fantasy and horror.
As for what Benchmark plans to stage next, there are many possibilities. The company has received over 300 submissions—from short shorts, to one act plays, to full-length productions, and the company is currently making its choices.
Benchmark’s next stage production will be Dec. 1. There will also be another community response piece in the fall.
Want a deeper glimpse into The Nether? Visit benchmarktheatre.com/thenether for a preview. Tickets are also available through the site.
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