Working at Starbucks in Ithaca led Adam Lee, an Information Technology Services help desk employee at Ithaca College, into the world of theater.
While at Starbucks, Lee met fellow employee Nick Clarey, who had recently formed the WingSpace Theater Company.
WingSpace gives anyone in the Ithaca area the opportunity to get involved with theater — regardless of experience.
The group, which debuts this Friday at the Lost Dog Café, plans to perform different pieces the third Friday of every month. Anne Koester, managing director of WingSpace, said the Lost Dog Café fits the vibe and purpose of the company nicely: both put focus on the Ithaca community.
“It’s pretty much all locals,” Koester said.
Actors from Binghamton, Ithaca, Elmira and elsewhere have joined the company, which held its first auditions in the fall. The members are of all ages and backgrounds, including students from Ithaca College, Cornell University and SUNY–Binghamton.
“We’ve got a great group of people,” Koester said.
Lee said the company has several actors from the college and Cornell.
“The fellow actors in the company are fantastic,” Lee said.
The company’s Sunday rehearsals are perfect for busy student schedules, Lee said.
This week’s show will consist of comedic skits and improvisation. While a part of WingSpace works exclusively on comedic and improv performances — dubbed “Left Wings” — WingSpace is more varied in its material. It focuses on one-act plays but aims to perform different types of theater, from comedy to drama to tragedy and beyond, Clarey said.
WingSpace got its name from Clarey’s background in theater. Clarey, the group’s artistic director, said he has noticed a certain power and energy in the wings of the theater.
“You never know what people will come out,” Koester said, noting the company’s tagline, “You Never Know What’s Waiting in the Wings.”
Clarey said during his own time in college, his fellow actors weren’t nervous as they got ready in the dressing rooms — it was when they got into the wings of the stage that stage fright and butterflies set in. Clarey’s reasoning for this is the fact that by the time actors are in the wings, there are only seconds away from the performance, and no last-minute changes can be made.
“When it’s in the wings, it’s out of your hands,” he said.
The name also shows the foundation and growth of the group: The actors start in the wings and work their way up to an established company.
The company has a core group of actors that try out for different roles, but Koester said the group intends to “[mix] things up” for different productions, picking the best actors for the roles.
The main purpose of the company is to grant exposure to Ithaca-area playwrights and actors, Clarey said. In addition to giving locals a step up on the theater scene, Clarey wanted to found a theater company to share his passion for theater arts.
“I had an itch to start one anyway,” Clarey said.
Lee said he admires Clarey’s direction, his dedication to the company and his enthusiasm about bringing more theater to Ithaca.
“[Clarey’s] kind of the driver behind the whole thing,” Lee said.
The group chose the Lost Dog Lounge because its mobile seating allows the company to perform different types of theater each month. Clarey said he hopes the downtown location will also help draw in audiences and “tie a lot of community together” — the purpose of forming the company.
“This is my baby, basically,” Clarey said.
WingSpace Theater Company is performing at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Lost Dog Lounge, 106-112 South Cayuga St. Tickets are $3. The company is accepting auditions and one-act plays for their March performance. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at wingspacetheater.org.