New Mural at Trustus, “Earth Medicine”

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A vibrant addition to the artistic landscape of the Vista has been unveiled at Trustus Theatre. The mural, entitled Earth Medicine, can now be seen on the Lady Street side of Trustus. It was commissioned by The Vista Neighborhood Association (VNA) and facilitated by One Columbia for Arts & Culture. The official unveiling and dedication ceremony was held today.

Bart Walrath from the VNA explained the dedication of the mural and how the project came to fruition. “The murals are dedicated to the memory of Richard Rowe. Rick lived in the Vista, founded the Vista Neighborhood Association and served on the Boards of Trustus Theatre and the Vista Guild, among many other contributions he made to his community. Rick became a champion of adding the murals while he was on the Board of Directors of Trustus Theatre and often mentioned how great it would be to have murals in the three ‘shadow box’ type indentations on the north and west facing walls of the theatre.

Shortly before Rick passed away earlier this year after a long illness, the VNA voted to commission the murals in his memory and began the artist selection process. A committee reviewed 68 applications from artists throughout the southeastern US. Three finalists developed specific concepts and sketches and presented them to the committee. The artist SEVEN was selected. Vibrant & immersive, the murals’ intricate scenes invite onlookers to contemplate the essence of the elements depicted.”

Eric Finley, also known as the artist SEVEN, is a professional muralist and designer originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His work is mostly known by its large-scale bold use of vibrant and luminous colors often featuring people, themes of nature and geometry. His approach to mural painting is always rooted in his passion and love for the craft, which is evident by the work he produces.

Earth Medicine is designed to tell a story of the rising collective human consciousness on planet earth at the moment. It features a woman “medicine carrier” who, in her dreamlike state, envisions the rise in consciousness throughout nature. Each section of the triptych mural design is a continuation from the last and viewed as one it could be seen as a continuous image.

This project was made possible by contributions from the Vista Guild and the City of Columbia.  Trustus is honored to join the growing number of public art projects and murals in Columbia’s vibrant and diverse downtown. Photo and video of the event can be found on the Trustus Facebook page.

Introducing our new Executive Director

Columbia, S.C. – Trustus Theatre is excited to announce that their new Executive Director, Jessica Francis Fichter, started on January 4th, 2022. Fichter has a rich theatrical background including a B.A. in theatre education, an M. Ed in divergent learning, and an M.F.A in directing from the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City.

Fichter is extremely invested in the success and growth of the professional theatre community in Columbia. Fichter says “The quality of productions and vision of Trustus has remained unique and clear. Professional theatre is necessary for Columbia’s artistic health, specifically as the city grows.” She is thrilled to be a part of this diverse community of artists and is ready to get to work helping Trustus navigate the changing climate of live theatre. Board President Sumner Bender says “Jessica will be a great addition to the staff at Trustus. Her varied background in theatre gives her a 360-degree view of what is needed to aid in the success of a nonprofit arts organization. We are also interested in ramping up the Trustus education programs and who better to herald that project than a former theatre educator.”

Trustus Theatre’s current Interim Artistic Director, Dewey Scott Wiley, will remain through the end of the current season. Scott-Wiley has put together a full season of shows that have intimate casts and crews to help mitigate COVID concerns. She is working with creative teams to ensure proper COVID protocols are in place and followed. Theatre safety for staff, cast, crew, and audience members is the highest priority this season.

Trustus’ first show of 2022 is Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical rock show, tick, tick… BOOM! on the Thigpen Main Stage. This is followed by two regional premieres: At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist Dance Nation by Clare Barron. The rom-com musical First Date hits the stage in June, followed by the Trustus True Crime Rep featuring two world-premieres by local playwrights, House Calls by Charlie Finesilver and Composure by Trustus Company member Jason Stokes which run in repertory in August. Flex Passes are available and can be used in any combination of shows. Visit for more information.

Trustus Theatre is currently in its 37th Season as the Midlands’s contemporary professional theatre. Founded in 1985 by Kay and Jim Thigpen, Trustus Theatre boasts two performing venues with the Thigpen Main Stage and the Trustus Side Door Theatre. The theatre and the Trustus Company endeavor to enrich the lives and deepen the experiences of their artists and patrons by producing works that examine humanity in the 21st Century. The theatre’s goal is to select challenging scripts that will start and nurture dialogues that promote discussion within the community with productions that are brought to life through dynamic storytelling and inventive designs.

Introducing: The Producers’ Circle




We’d usually be starting a brand new season around this time of year, but that’s not possible at present. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Today, we are launching The Producers’ Circle to sustain the future of Trustus Theatre – and if you have a special place in your heart for this theatre, we hope you’ll join today and become a supporting member of our annual fund!

Thanks to new online giving options, you can make monthly or quarterly recurring donations at These recurring donations will give Trustus the ability to support the theatre’s operating expenses during the pandemic, as well as give us the ability to create new streaming events and prepare for our return to live performance.

As ticket buyers and contributors, your support has made it possible for Trustus Theatre to present award-winning contemporary and original works for 35 years right here in Columbia, SC. Truly, we are here BECAUSE OF YOU!

There are benefits to becoming a member of The Producers’ Circle (you won’t mind if we give you preferential treatment, right?), and with recurring donations – your membership will build to new levels over the course of the coming year. [See levels below]

Friends, please support us through this moment. We know that so many are facing a difficult time, but all donations levels are meaningful to our sustainability and essential to our resilience. Join The Producers’ Circle today so that we can gather under the stage lights again once it’s safe.

We miss you. Stay well. Stay safe. We can’t thank you enough.
Chad Henderson

Donate Now



Supporter – $25 to $199
• Trustus Membership card good for 10% of all drinks at the bar
• Acknowledgement in playbills and online

Philanthropist – $200 to $349
• Invitation to the Season kickoff party (on hold for Season 36)
• All benefits listed above

Playwright – $350 to $499
• Trustus T Shirt
• All benefits listed above

Director – $500 to $999
• Attend a Company Preview of one of our Main Stage productions (your choice)
• All benefits listed above



Producer – $1,000 to $4,999
• Invitation to all Company Previews on the Main Stage
• Membership in the Trustus Encore Club and your name inscribed on a star placed on a seat in the Thigpen Main Stage
• All benefits listed above

Executive Producer – $5,000 and up
• Named as individual sponsor of the Season 36 show of your choice. Invite 132 friends, and treat them to a private performance!
• All benefits listed above


Nominated in Three Categories in Free Times Best of Columbia 2020 Awards

We are excited to share that we have once again been nominated in the Free Times Best of Columbia Awards! These awards highlight readers’ favorites from local restaurants and bars to entertainment venues, local politics, and local services. We are honored that our patrons have nominated us for:

  • Best Local Theater Company
  • Best Local Theater Production, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Best Local Comedy or Improv Group, The Mothers

Voting is now open and we would love to have your vote in these categories!

Congratulations to all of the local theater companies and all of the productions that were nominated alongside us. It’s a great reminder to us all that there is some wonderful theater happening right here in our city.

Voting is open now through the end of the month-get your vote in today for your favorites!

Join us for Midlands Gives on Tuesday, May 5!

Dear Trustus Fans and Supporters,

When Kay and Jim Thigpen founded Trustus Theatre in 1985, they never knew that this organization would grow into an award-winning $600,000 enterprise that is renowned as an essential cultural institution here in South Carolina. When we began our 35th Anniversary Season in September, we never expected that a global pandemic would halt operations and make it necessary to cancel over half of our programming which could eventually result in the loss of over 60% of our projected earned income this season.

While that may sound grim, the underlying strength of Trustus has always been the constant energized efforts of YOU: our fans and supporters. With your help, Trustus will see it through this pandemic and return to bringing you some of the best theatre in South Carolina.

Tuesday May 5th, 2020 is MIDLANDS GIVES — and Trustus is once again participating and in need of your support. This annual event brings philanthropic folks together through a massive day of giving that supports some of your favorite non-profits in the Midlands. We hope you’ll remember all of the great times you’ve had at Trustus in the past years, and help us reach our $10,000 goal on Tuesday.

We’re hoping that 100 fans will donate $100 during Midlands Gives, so that we can reach our $10,000 goal. To donate, please visit and click the green “DONATE NOW” button. The process is easy, quick, and deeply meaningful to our Trustus family.

If you’re able to help us beyond your gracious contribution, you can become part of the Trustus Army during Midlands Gives by sharing our social media posts on Tuesday or contacting friends and colleagues directly and asking for their support.

Due to many generous corporate contributions to Midlands Gives, participating organizations are eligible to win bonus funding awards. So when you contribute, you could be the magic donor who helps us unlock a prize.

Also, if any of you would like to provide a matching donation to drum up competitive giving during MIDLANDS GIVES – please contact me directly at [email protected] before 5pm on May 1st.

We’ll keep you updated during the day on our progress, so we hope you’ll keep checking in with us on our social platforms.

In the meantime, we hope you stay well and safe. We remain deeply grateful for your continued support.



Chad Henderson

Producing Artistic Director

A Message from Trustus

Dear Patrons and Supporters,


Theatre is communal in every way one can imagine. It’s alive, it’s in front of you, and it only exists in the moment. During this quarantine we are unsure when our award-winning programming will return. However, we intend to do everything necessary to support our staff, artists, and audiences’ safety. We at Trustus are not alone as we face this difficult and uncertain time.


I’ll be honest: we could really use your support.


Currently, you can stop by the Trustus Bar from 3:00-6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday to purchase our beer and wine inventory which is now priced for retail. Most bottles of wine can be purchased for $15, and 6-packs of craft brew can be purchased for $12. Some of higher-end items (like champagne) can be purchased for $20. All items have been disinfected, and our staff will serve you with gloves on. This is a great way to support Trustus, AND have a great week and weekend enjoying our delicious offerings (sorry, you’ll have to get your own popcorn).


You can also support Trustus from the comfort of your home by mailing us a donation (520 Lady St., Columbia, SC 29201), or by donating here.


Let’s talk brass tacks here. With our indefinite hold on performances, Trustus is unable to recoup the $30,000 investment made for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” due to the inability to generate ticket sales. This lack of cash flow will undoubtedly create more severe issues for the theatre as this quarantine continues.


However, we know we have the best fans and supporters that anyone could imagine. We are so thankful to all of our ticket-holders who have been understanding in regards to show cancellations and postponements. To those of you who have already sent us donations, or started fundraisers on Facebook – THANK YOU SO MUCH for being on the front lines with us!


We remain dedicated to serving this community that we love, and we can’t wait for the next time we all convene around the warmth of the stage lights to tell you a story.


If you need entertainment during this quarantine, I highly recommend “Tiger King” on Netflix. Trust me, it’ll remind you how good your life is. In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, stay healthy. We’ll see you on the other side, and thank you for your continued (and greatly appreciated) support!

Chad Henderson
Producing Artistic Director

A Streetcar Named Desire


Trustus Theatre Changes Thigpen Main Stage Into a Round Orientation, and Presents 20th Century Classic A Streetcar Named Desire in a thrilling production

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Trustus Theatre puts a new twist on one of America’s most iconic plays, Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, when it opens on their Main Stage this February. The Main Stage has been converted into a round orientation, meaning that audiences will discover a more intimate, deeper connection with a play that they may already be familiar with. A Streetcar Named Desire will open up on Trustus Theatre’s Main Stage on Friday, February 7, and will run through Saturday, February 22. Soda City Brass Band will play a special concert from 7:30-8pm on Opening Night to celebrate this inaugural production in the round. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732. A Streetcar Named Desire is sponsored by Richland Sertoma Club.

This classic Tennessee Williams show came to the Thigpen Main Stage in 2002 and returns in celebration of the theatre’s 35th Anniversary season. One of the most renowned plays of the American theatre, A Streetcar Named Desire introduces audiences to Blanche DuBois, a schoolteacher from Mississippi. She arrives in New Orleans and takes a streetcar named “Desire” to the French Quarter, where her sister, Stella, and Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, live barely above squalor. Blanche’s affections of refinement set her immediately at odds with blue-collar Stanley, who is further incensed when he learns his wife’s aristocratic inheritance—the family estate—has been forfeited to creditors. Believing that Blanche has sold the estate for personal profit and is swindling Stella and Stanley from sharing in the proceeds, Stanley disdains and demeans Blanche, who fights back in the only way she knows: with her genteel charm. The Kowalskis’s Elysian Fields apartment becomes a pressure cooker of sensuality and class tensions, until ultimately erupting in some of the most iconic dramatic moments seen on the 20th Century stage. Trustus Theatre’s production will expose the visceral nature of the play, and show the piece’s relevance in the 21st Century.

A Streetcar Named Desire, the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, was written by playwright Tennessee Williams. It will be directed by Trustus Company Member, Patrick Michael Kelly, who starred in the play as the Young Collector/Doctor when the play was originally performed at Trustus Theatre in 2002.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic for many reasons,” said Kelly. “It has iconic characters and memorable lines, but it also possesses timeless themes. Both Blanche and Stanley play the role of the outsider, each character an alien to the other, both striving to be seen and heard, fighting to keep their power and to control the other. Their conflict speaks to our common collective failure to truly communicate with and understand each other, choosing instead to label and belittle each other in order to preserve our fragile sense of self. This play could be set at any time and place in America. Luckily, for audiences, Williams wrote it in the luxurious setting of New Orleans in the 1940s.”

This play will feature Burke Brown as Stanley Kowalski, Marybeth Gorman as Blanche DuBois, Brittany Hammock as Stella Kowalski, Jon Whit as Steve Hubbell, Shirley McGuinness as Eunice Hubbell, Tashera Pravato as Three Women, Paul Smith as A Young Collector/Doctor, and Jason Stokes as Harold Mitchell (Mitch). Hammock, Whit, and Stokes are Trustus Company Members.

Burke Brown, who plays Stanley, is a guest artists in residency, and he comes to Columbia by way of Atlanta.

“Oftentimes audiences have seen Stanley as the villain of A Streetcar Named Desire,” said Brown. “As humans, it’s easy for us to slap a label on someone or even ourselves as all good or all bad. But in reality, we’re full of paradoxes and Stanley is no exception. I think he’s experienced a lot of trauma and is constantly seeking to distract and numb himself from his pain. On the surface, the themes of violence towards women, misogyny, and substance abuse are things that many of us can still relate to 70 years after the play originally debuted. But even deeper are the effects of trauma and how they manifest in our relations with others. This is one of the most iconic American plays and it’s messages still ring true, maybe even more today.”

Trustus Theatre is bringing a new look to the first three plays of 2020 and they have converted the Thigpen Main Stage into a round orientation. A Streetcar Named Desire will be the first one to be presented in this arena-style staging, which allows for audiences to converge on the play from all sides. Audiences will be immersed in these stories and will be able to more deeply connect with the performers as a new level of intimacy comes to the Main Stage.

“Audiences should catch A Streetcar Named Desire because it’s doubly vital as a history lesson and a hard look in the mirror,” said Kelly. “Our production in particular is exciting due to the creative use of space—experiencing this classic in the round promises for an exceptional and intimate experience with one of American theatre’s most iconic stories. The round setting allows for visceral realism in the acting, and we have a stellar cast featuring some of the very best actors from Columbia and the region bringing their all to this beast of a play. A Streetcar Named Desire is a thriller and our production delivers.”

A Streetcar Named Desire will run from Friday, February 7 through Saturday, February 22, 2020, and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, February 7, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, February 8, at 8pm; Sunday, February 9, at 3pm; Thursday, February 13th, at 8pm; Friday, February 14, at 8pm; Saturday, February 15, at 8pm; Sunday, February 16, at 3pm; Wednesday, February 19, at 8pm; Thursday, February 20, at 8pm; Friday, February 21, at 8pm; and Saturday, February 22, at 8pm.

Trustus Theatre believes that ticket prices shouldn’t keep theatre-lovers from being able to experience great professional theatre. This is why they offer one I.P.W.I.C. (I Pay What I Can) matinee on the first Sunday of each non-musical run. For A Streetcar Named Desire, the I.P.W.I.C. matinee is Sunday, February 9, at 3pm. Based on availability, tickets can be purchased for a donation of $1 and they are available on a first come, first served basis one hour prior to curtain at the box office window. Patrons wishing to guarantee seats are still able to reserve preferred seating for those performances at the regular matinee ticket price.

This Main Stage production is sponsored by Richland Sertoma Club.



Trustus Theatre has been a member of Theatre Communications Group for over a decade now. TCG is a nonprofit service organization headquartered in New York City that promotes and networks professional nonprofit theatres in the United States (check out their website: This year, Trustus is endeavoring to maximize our membership opportunities by attending TCG events as well as applying for grants offered by the group. So, last week, I packed a suitcase and took to the skies to attend the TCG National Theatre Conference in the beautiful city of Miami, FL. I even got to bring my wonderful wife with me.

The 2019 TCG National Theatre Conference took place for three consecutive days at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.  Overwhelmingly large, this conference provided over 1,000+ attendees an exploration which addressed the field’s most pressing issues, from the evolving landscape of fundraising, to organizational culture, to leadership development, all while nurturing the field’s growing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Conference community engaged with thought leaders from within and beyond the arts to grapple with theatre’s true constant: the challenge of adapting and sustaining our organizations and our work in times of great change.

Since social justice is a focus of our programming at Trustus, I chose to attend workshops and breakout sessions that focused on that theme.

My first workshop was a TCG Lab called “EVER FORWARD: Addressing Culture Shift & the #MeToo Movement in the Theatre Field.” This three-hour lab addressed the many ways that safety, nurture, and caregiving can be provided to artists and audiences. I was encouraged to learn that the work Trustus has been doing this season with The Chicago Theatre Standards and the Pillars of Intimacy is not only “right on time,” but that we’re ahead of the game in comparison to many other organizations. There were also some enlightening considerations offered in regards to meeting audiences in an appreciative way by considering the singularity of their experience. For example, what is our late-seating policy? Do we have one? Or, if a patron gets up in the middle of a show and bolts for the door, perhaps ask them on their way out “if they’re ok?” It’s a possible moment of understanding and compassion rarely offered. [Admittedly, when I’ve seen patrons run for the door I’ve thought “Wow, they can’t handle it,” “Wow, they hate this,” or “never have spicy foods before seeing a play.”]

I believe the most valuable experiences I had at this conference were focused on Anti-Racism work. These three sessions, that amounted to 5 hours of examination (not nearly enough time for such an important issue), set forth a call to action and a recognition of the theatre’s responsibility in dismantling the systematic racism that exists in organizations, especially PWI’s (predominantly white institutions).

While it’s impossible to fully encapsulate the entirety of the conversation in a brief blog, various themes continued rising to the surface. The success in Anti-Racism work actually lies in the failures. Try, try, try + fail, fail, fail = SUCCESS. Also, organizations must lean into discomfort. Being in an uncomfortable space indicates growth, acknowledgement, and the possibility for change. Action is necessary, followed by more action. Take one step, then take another. Our guide posts should be: Transparency, Follow the Money, Relentless Inquiry, and (as stated before) Continual Action.

I was also able to attend some workshops on audience engagement, audience experience, and marketing in the digital age. All of which provided relevant considerations for the 21stCentury.

To say the least, this conference provided inspiration and important conversation that I think will serve our organization as we move forward. We want to work for a more representative theatre. A theatre that mirrors the community we serve, and tells a diverse range of stories. To share our collective experiences so that we can listen, learn, and relate. We want to make meaningful experiences and engender a culture that makes space and lifts up unheard voices.

I gathered from this conference that the conversations in the American Theatre are focused on the possibility of a better world through our work. You’ll have to continue holding us accountable…

Vista Queen

More than one hundred fifty fans and friends joined Trustus Theatre on Friday, June 7, for Vista Queen 2019, Battle Royale. This was the twenty first year for the Vista Queen pageant, hosted by Columbia educator and performer, Terrence Henderson (aka Alexia Bonet), and Dreher High School Choir Director, Walter Graham (aka CJ Grant). “The Vista Queen Pageant is one-of-a-kind,” said Trustus Artistic Director (and former Vista Queen winner), Chad Henderson. “We gather Trustus friends, family, and supporters each year to compete in an annual drag pageant that is also Trustus’ longest running and most successful fundraiser. With an opening number, a talent competition, and an evening gown interview section – it’s a great event that keeps growing.”

“Vista Queen serves as Trustus Theatre’s largest yearly fundraiser, and I cannot thank the volunteers, hosts, contestants and judges enough for their time, energy and creativity in putting together such an amazing event,” said Trustus Development Director, Brad Martin. “We raised a record amount of money for Trustus Theatre which we will put to good use as we make some much-needed repairs to our roof, the HVAC systems and upgrade our lighting and sound equipment. The success of this year’s pageant was a product of the amazing team work that everyone brought to this event.”

The four contestants this year were no strangers to Vista Queen. The theme was Battle Royale, and four past contestants came back to battle it out for fans and judges’ votes.

The show opened to theme music from the movie Rocky, and contestants took the stage dressed in boxing robes, sequined gloves and feathers, setting the stage for the battle to come. The four contestants, all active performers at Trustus and community leaders, business owners and educators, included Raven Black (Chris Cockrell), Crystal DeCanter (Daryl Byrd), JustGia! (Greg Garrett) and Abortia Clinique (Mark Ziegler). Special guest performers, Nicole Roberts and Paris LeFaris, also took the stage, and Trustus Company member, Abigail McNeely, served as the live stream host so people who didn’t get a ticket could watch the sold-out pageant at home.

This year Trustus invited six amazing local women to serve as judges, including artist Kirkland Smith, Richland County Councilwoman Allison Terracio, founder of Acting Up with Tiffany, Tiffany James, Partner with Burnette Shutt McDaniel Law Firm, Janet Rhodes, owner of Revente, Heather Burns, and Executive Director of Harbison Theatre, Kristin Cobb.

Crystal DeCanter won over the judge’s score sheets, while JustGia! was crowned Miss Vista Queen 2019, as her combined judges score and audience votes gave her the nod over first runner-up, Abortia Clinique.

Trustus would like to thank all the volunteers who helped make this event such a success. Also, thanks got out to sponsors including Jason Carpenter and William Frye, Robin Gottlieb Hair Studio, Revente, Workshop Theatre, Scott Hall and Bone-In Barbecue, Lock Reddick and Green’s Beverages, Arabesque, and The Nickelodeon Theatre.


Put on your flapper dress or your best three-piece suit, and make plans to attend the hottest party of the spring at The Great Gatsby House Party. Held at the Historic Seibels House, this signature Trustus Theatre event will kick off their Season 34 production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby, running on their Main Stage April 5 – April 27, 2019. Tickets are limited and may be purchased at www.trustus.orgor by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732.


Trustus Theatre, on the behalf of Mr. Jay Gatsby, invites you for an unforgettable evening under the stars this spring at the Historic Seibels House. Your ticket to the event includes access to an open bar that features beer, wine, and Gatsby-themed specialty cocktails along with impeccable catering from Scott Hall Catering, the chef behind Columbia’s Bone-In BBQ restaurant in the Bull Street District. Outside, guests will dance the night away to live music provided by local gypsy swing band, Flat Out Strangers as well as Station Seven Band. Inside the house, guests will be entertained by DJ Preach Jacobs and with portrait paintings by Lucas Sams. There will be raffles, a silent auction, and a chance to have a private meeting with Mr. Jay Gatsby himself. Proceeds from the event will benefit Trustus Theatre.


“This party is going to transport you to a Gatsby-style party where the food is delicious, the drinks are plentiful, and the music doesn’t stop,” Trustus Theatre Artistic Director Chad Henderson said. “This is a great chance to enjoy a special night with a special date or friends. While 1920s wardrobe is encouraged, it is not required. Not to mention, with Station Seven Band, Flat Out Strangers, and DJ Preach Jacobs—you’ll be dancing all night. We always like to make ‘fun’ a big part of our fundraisers, and this event is no exception.”


The Great Gatsby House Party will be held at The Historic Seibels House at 1601 Richland Street in Columbia, South Carolina 29201. General admission tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.trustus.orgor by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732. VIP Private Tables are available and include a drink service attendant, a bottle of champagne, and a special invitation for you and your guests to attend a special preview of The Great Gatsbyat Trustus Theatre on April 3rdat 7:30pm. The VIP Private Tables are available for parties of 8 and are $1,000 each.


This party is sponsored by Steel Hands Brewing, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Ciroc VS, and Breakthru Beverage Group.

Trustus 2018 Holiday Party

It’s time for our annual Trustus Theatre Holiday Party! This Sunday, December 16th from 6-10pm.

With plenty of food for you to enjoy, a cash bar, entertainment, awards, and general merriment, this is an evening at Trustus Theatre that you don’t want to miss. It’s our way of saying thank you to our wonderful members and patrons for the talent and support that they’ve brought to the theatre this year.

All are welcome! We hope to see you there.


By Chad Henderson (Artistic Director)

Trustus Theatre has been a member of Theatre Communications Group for over a decade now. TCG is a nonprofit service organization headquartered in New York City that promotes and networks professional nonprofit theatres in the United States (check out their website: This year, Trustus is endeavoring to maximize our membership opportunities by attending TCG events as well as applying for grants offered by the group. So, last weekend, I packed my Rick Steves backpack with enough clothes for a fall weekend in NYC and boarded a northbound plane in Charlotte (thanks to Matthew DeGuire and Randy Moore at Travel Unlimited for sponsoring my travel). I was on my way to attend the 2018 TCG Fall Forum on Culture Makers and Governance.

I’ve been on staff at Trustus since 2007, and this was the first time that a member of the theatre’s administration was present at one of TCG’s conferences in that time. The conference began on Saturday morning with a First-Timer’s breakfast, which was absolutely lovely. I sat at a table with Mac Thompson and Robbie Tindall (board member and director from The Actors Theatre of Louisville), playwright Larissa FastHorse (her show The Thanksgiving Play is currently running at Playwrights’ Horizons), Erik Schroeder (Artistic Director of The House Theatre of Chicago), and members of the TCG Forum staff. After an hour of great conversation, I knew that I was surrounded by people who love theatre, who create it yearlong, and who respect the opportunity for theatres to not only represent their community, but to steward their communities forward by welcoming them to learn about the human experience by looking through lenses that differ greatly from their own.

While it’s impossible to pack the entire weekend’s wealth of experience and knowledge into one blog post, I can say that the ever-present exploration featured approaches for making cultural changes within organizations that could have the power to make change in an organization’s community.

Laura Freebairn-Smith, from Organization Performance Group, asked us to understand that at the moment an organization is created, a culture is created. The question is, over time, how do we change the culture at our theatres? How do we change the world? The answer could possibly lie in giving ourselves permission to do something radical, and utilizing micro-levers to make meaningful changes that create transformations at a holistic level. (She also quoted her psychologist who said “An expectation is a resentment under construction” – I found that to be profound.)

Tim Cynova, the Chief Operating Officer at Fractured Atlas, touted the importance of inventive workplace structures and policies. Cynova sang the praises of organizations that expect their staff to work remotely, which ultimately allows them to work during their most productive hours each day – this leads to engagement and efficiency. He touted the importance of trust in a work environment. The end goal is an engaged workforce. “Engaged employees are those with passion and who feel a profound connection to their company,” says Cynova. “They drive innovation and move the organization forward.” [Check out a blog from Cynova called “Work Shouldn’t Suck” here:]

Harold Steward (Managing Director of The Theatre Offensive -Boston, MA) and Ashley Walden Davis (Managing Director of Alternate Roots – Austell, GA) shared how their organizations saw cultural shifts by “leaning into complexity rather than avoiding it for comfort’s sake” and reiterating that theatre’s have unique staffing needs and that “equitable doesn’t equal sameness.” (Much of their session was focused on lessons learned from Emergent Strategy, a book by adrienne maree brown. I ordered a copy and am devouring it. Yes, it’s on Amazon).

Sulu LeoNimm and Katy Rubin from Theatre of the Oppressed NYC led exercises where we examined scenarios where major donors or other stake-holders may not meet kindly with cultural-vision changes and how to meet those challenges with openness, patience, and information. [It should be noted that your humble narrator participated in an improv where I assumed the character of a new Artistic Director who was trying to engage a high-rolling donor named Larry to invest in a cultural change of introducing each board member with their pronouns. Larry did not like this idea. I became a bit defensive with him because he was being incredibly inconsiderate and unwelcoming to our new board member who identified as them, they, theirs. He refused to be moved towards a 21st Century ideal of respect. I secretly hoped Larry would take to the seas in the yacht he so dearly loved, and never return. I felt this was the moment that much of the TCG staff and other participants remembered my name for the duration of the conference.]

Playwright Larissa FastHorse and Tony-nominated director Moritz von Stuelpnagel discussed the power of satire in theatre, and how using this style of comedy can effectively create social commentary and criticism by presenting these ideas in a way that audiences seem to find more digestible.

David Schmitz and Meghan Pressman, Managing Directors of Steppenwolf (Chicago, IL) and Woolly Mammoth (Washington DC) respectively, discussed how fiscal data can paint pictures of organizational and fieldwide culture. They presented examples of how individual organizations must look at their earned and contributed incomes, and how the best practices in assessing the fiscal needs of the theatre depend on the theatre itself and its respective community. There’s no one-size fits all approach.

There were plenty of great conversations with other theatre makers in our country over the course of the weekend. In the end, the repeated thread was the ability of theatres to create culture within their walls that can in turn affect the communities they serve.

It just so happens that this conference was even more timely for me due to Trustus’ recent implementation of The Chicago Theatre Standards and the use of The Pillars of Intimacy provided by Intimacy Directors International. The hope is that these standards and pillars will allow us to create safe and responsible spaces for dangerous work. We haven’t made publicity attempts in regards to these changes because we wanted to hold ourselves accountable for their implementation and adoption in the early stages. However, I learned that it’s also important for our community to hold us accountable while we undergo cultural changes – so be rest assured we’ll be telling you more about these processes as we move forward.

I should also mention that I was able to see five plays in four days, and got to catch up with Trustus family who are now living in New York. All in all, it was incredibly enriching weekend. I’m thankful to the Board of Directors for supporting this professional development opportunity, and to Travel Unlimited for the sponsored airfare (where every plane departed on time, and arrived early).

Keep your eyes on us folks. We’ve got a lot of great things in the works within these walls. I can’t wait for you to bear witness to what lies ahead.

Silence! The Musical


Trustus Theatre opens up their 34th Season on their Main Stage with Silence! The Musical, an unofficial musical parody based on Silence of the Lambs, just in time for Halloween. Silence! The Musical, winner of coveted industry awards such as the New York International Fringe Festival Outstanding Musical Award, will run from Friday, October 5 through Saturday, November 3, 2018. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

When Silence of the Lambs won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1992, the world never knew that it would become the subject of an award-winning musical parody. Now that musical comes to the Capital City in a hilarious production that’s right on time for Halloween. Rookie FBI Clarice Starling (pronounced in the style of Jodie Foster as “Schtarling”) matches wits with the brilliant but insane cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter in order to catch the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. Clarice faces her own demons while racing the clock to unlock Lecter’s clues before another innocent girl is killed and skinned by Buffalo Bill. This laugh-out-loud naughty satire features a singing chorus of floppy eared lambs narrating the action as Buffalo Bill gleefully dances a hoedown while kidnapping hapless Catherine Martin. Even Dr. Lecter, scary as ever, sings about the life he’d like to lead someday outside the prison walls. Silence! The Musical combines whip-smart dialogue and shocking songs to make a musical parody of The Silence of the Lambs that’s sure to be popular with seasoned fans of the movie and FBI rookies alike.

The music and lyrics of Silence! The Musical were written by Jon Kaplan and Al Kaplan and the book was written by Hunter Bell. Trustus Company Member Jonathan Monk will be directing the play with music direction by Randy Moore.

Silence! The Musical features an exceptional cast of professional talent including Trustus Company Members Kayla Cahill Machado as Clarice Starling, Patrick Dodds as Buffalo Bill, Abigail McNeely as Catherine Martin, Robin Gottlieb as FBI Director Crawford, Samuel McWhite as Dr. Chilton, and Trell Brennan as FBI Agent Ardelia. Guest Artist Mike Morales joins the cast as Pembrey. Finally, Trustus Company Member, Actors’ Equity Member, and local favorite Hunter Boyle takes the stage as the famed imprisoned cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Director Jonathan Monk finds a deep connection to Trustus shows of old with Silence! The Musical. “As an apprentice at Trustus in the 90s, there was a tradition of bawdy, but well-written late night shows,” says Monk. “I found more of a connection to the material that may be considered outré. I was able to empathize with the larger-than-life characters I saw onstage after the initial shock wore off, and that’s a testament to good writing, acting, and direction. I am most excited to bring to the Trustus stage a piece that has the feel of those delightfully silly and occasionally offensive late night experiences, where actors and audiences can celebrate the energy of bold choices and even possibly empathize with a dancing serial killer. The entire cast is made up of true powerhouse collaborators—they throw themselves in headfirst. It makes my job much more enjoyable because they surprise me with the choices they’re making.

If you’re looking for a well-crafted parody with energetic performances and conceptual storytelling, you will certainly find much to enjoy. Laughter is so important and necessary right now—if you need a break from the news, join us and a roomful of strangers, and share what I hope is a ridiculous experience.”

Hunter Boyle will be stepping on to the Main Stage to bring Dr. Hannibal Lecter to life for this musical.

“Lecter is such an iconic character in our popular culture—I think to make him frightening and humorous will be a huge challenge,” Boyle says. “I’m excited about the process of creating that mixture. I think that devotees of the film, college students, and adults will gasp and be enthralled by some of the songs and actions on stage in the musical. It’s a piece of theatre that challenges the actors since many actors play multiple roles, and the audience will enjoy the roller coaster ride!”

Silence! The Musical will run from Friday, October 5—Saturday, November 3, 2018 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, October 4, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, October 6, at 8pm; Sunday, October 7, at 3pm; Thursday, October 11, at 7:30pm; Friday, October 12, at 8pm; Saturday, October 13, at 8pm; Sunday, October 14, at 3pm; Thursday, October 18, at 7:30pm; Friday, October 19 at 8pm; Saturday, October 20, at 8pm; Sunday, October 21, at 3pm; Thursday, October 25, at 7:30pm; Friday, October 26, at 8pm; Saturday, October 27, at 8pm; Sunday, October 28, at 3pm; Wednesday, October 31, at 7:30pm; Thursday, November 1, at 7:30pm; Friday, November 2, at 8pm; and Saturday, November 3, at 8pm.

Silence! The Musical is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Department of Sport and Entertainment Management.

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Thanks for a great Season 33!

As we close the doors on our 33rd Season here at Trustus Theatre and begin to prepare for our Season 34, we wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us over the last year! It was an incredible season in our Trustus history—a season full of plays, musicals, and productions that opened all of our eyes and encouraged us to stay vigilant in regards to social justice, cultural exploration, and examining what it is to be human in the 21st century.

Our talented cast, crew, and directors put together some truly outstanding performances from our season opener, Barbecue, all the way through to our final play, Boy About Ten. It was a journey that we all enjoyed and we hope that you did, too! This past season alone, we featured three brand new pieces of work and two Tony Award-winning musicals.

Do you remember all of the great moments of Season 33?

We opened up Season 33 with Robert O’Hara’s Barbecue on our Main Stage. 

Our first Side Door Theatre production was Building the Wall, a political thriller.

We brought back a fan-favorite, Evil Dead, The Musical just in time for Halloween with several of the original actors coming back and reprising their roles. There were even several encounters with Chainsaw Chad!

Our local comedy troupe, The Mothers, wrote their very own play to perform on our Main Stage. A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall was a heartwarming, hilarious tale perfect for the holiday season.

We kicked off the new year with a powerful play by Tony Kushner, A Bright Room Called Day.

In his Trustus directing debut, Bakari Lebby brought Sunset Baby to our Side Door Theatre stage. The play was even nominated for Best Local Theatre Production in the Free Times Best of Columbia awards!

The cast of Fun Home, the Tony Award-winning musical, brought the house down each and every evening with their emotional performances.

We brought a second piece of original work to our Main Stage with the production of The Restoration’s Constance—a play that featured a live band over two dozen actors.

Hir, our final Side Door Theatre play of the year, was a truly memorable play about a dysfunctional family that was brought to life by four talented actors.
The Tony Award-winning Memphis had audiences dancing and singing along in their seats during each performance.
We closed out Season 33 with Boy About Ten, written by local playwright Jon Tuttle. This play was developed over the course of a year and made it’s world premiere on our stage.
Are you ready for Season 34? We can’t wait to see you in our theatre again this fall! Tickets go on sale next week for our first production, Silence! The Musical.

Trustus Theatre Voted Best Local Theatre Company

Thank you, Columbia, for voting us at the Best Local Theatre Company again this year in the Free Times Best of Columbia Awards!

Here at Trustus, we are dedicated to high-quality productions that speak to today’s most important issues. We’re a safe place for exploration and expression of the political, the personal, and all things human. Our theatre is your theatre!

We’re honored that so many of you in Columbia also believe in our mission, and that you come out to support our actors, our crew, and our directors in each play and musical that we produce in our theatre. At Trustus, it’s always our goal to make an impact on our community by helping to create a more diverse and vibrant Columbia. To us, this award means that we’re making an impact on Columbia and we’re thrilled to be able to do so!

Congratulations to all of the other local theaters that were nominated for this award, especially to the runner up, Town Theatre!

Season 34

n its 34th Season, Trustus Theatre is exploring the human condition through theatrical works that have been adapted from award-winning source material. They are bringing productions to Columbia that focus on the incredible strength and integrity that humans exhibit, shown through stories that focus on conquering walls, taking adventures, making discoveries, and taking courageous chances. This season features award-winning scripts, a production back by popular demand, and the Trustus Theatre 2018 Playwrights’ Festival Winner. Tickets and Season 34 Flex Passes may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Chad Henderson, says, “Our upcoming programming will be welcoming to many audiences due to familiarity, and these stories will come to life through the Trustus lens: an artistic approach that values a dedication to matters of the heart, that celebrates creative storytelling, and furthers our commitment to sharing these stories in an intimate and comfortable setting. It might shock some that the same theatre that would produce the political thriller Building the Wall or Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day would produce such well-known material as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or the musical-comedy Silence! The Musical (the unauthorized parody of “The Silence of the Lambs.”) However, let’s take a moment to consider the times we live in and what the theatre can offer us at this moment: heart, endorphins, therapy, and escape.”

Season 34 begins with Silence! The Musical, the unauthorized parody of The Silence of the Lambs by Jon Kaplan, Al Kaplan, and Hunter Bell that will run Friday, October 5 through Saturday, November 3, 2018. Remaining Season 34 productions include Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol from November 30 to December 22, 2018; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from January 18 to February 9, 2019; Cost of Living from February 22 to March 2, 2019; 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche from March 8 to 16, 2019; The Great Gatsby from April 5 to 27, 2019; Sweat from May 17 – June 1, 2019; Heathers, The Musical from June 28 to July 27, 2019; Motherhood Out Loud from August 2 – 10, 2019; and Montgomery by Stephen Brown from August 23 to 31, 2019.

Trustus Theatre is bringing some of the most provocative contemporary theatre that you can get in the Midlands. The 34th season includes a Tony Winner for Best Play (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and not one, but two Pulitzer Prize Winners for Drama (Sweat and Cost of Living) for theatre patrons to enjoy right here in Columbia. In addition, the season includes several special events. Misery is Optional: Recollections of Recovery is written by Trustus Company Member Dewey Scott-Wiley and Christine Hellman, and will be on the Trustus Main Stage September 5 to 8, 2018. The Love is Love Cabaret was so successful in its first year during Season 33 that it’ll be coming back during Valentine’s Day Weekend 2019. On Friday, June 7, Trustus Theatre’s wildly popular fundraiser, Vista Queen, will be back for its 21st edition.

Flex Passes are availbale for purchase at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732. Trustus Theatre wants to put the power of ticketing right in the audience’s hands. With a Season 34 Flex Pass, you will receive 8 tickets that may be used flexibly over 10 productions (7 on the Main Stage, 3 in the Side Door Theatre.) This is the best opportunity to ensure prime seats and tickets for the season—Flex Pass holders also receive priority purchasing with a special ticketing window that opens up to them one week prior than ticket sales open to the general public. One Flex Pass is $220 for an adult and $160 for a student.

Tickets for Season 34 will be available for purchase at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732 one month prior to the opening day. For more information and updates on each upcoming production, visit the Trustus Theatre website or social media, or call 803-254-9732.


Trustus Theatre brings the Tony Award-winning hit musical, Memphis by Joe Dipietro and David Bryan, to the Thigpen Main Stage this summer. Showing from June 29 – July 28, 2018, this show brings two unlikely characters together on Beale Street, although the world isn’t quite ready for their love or their rock ‘n’ roll music. Memphis will open on Friday, June 29 and will run through Saturday, July 28, 2018. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Set in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 1950s, this show tells the story of a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun who fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll and an electrifying black singer, Felicia Farrell. Memphis is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever. This award-winning musical about the birth of rock ‘n’ roll will thrill you, move you, and have you dancing in the aisles!

Memphis’s book and lyrics were written by Joe Dipietro and the music and lyrics were written by David Bryan. It was the winner of the 2010 Tony for Best Musical and the winner of the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical. Memphis will be directed on Trustus Theatre’s Main Stage by Trustus Company Member Dewey Scott Wiley and will have music direction provided by Christopher Cockrell.

Sebastian Sowell will be bringing one of the main characters, Felicia Farrell, to life.

“It’s a story that includes themes very true to today like acceptance, tolerance, and love in a time of division, hate, and intolerance,” said Sowell. “This story shows that one doesn’t always have to follow tradition, and even though change can be hard to understand, it can lead to a better future. Memphis takes place in a time where everything was so divided, but Felicia and Huey are an example of the acceptance and love that comes from not letting outside characteristics keep one from seeing the good characteristics inside of someone.”

“The subject matter for this show and the era in which it’s set isn’t the easiest to discuss,” said Jamie Meador, who will play Huey Calhoun. “But the fact that Memphis is a musical that helps bridge that gap. Scientists say mathematics is the universal language, but I say that music is. A good song is a good song despite your background, race, gender, or orientation. As I see it, our production’s subject matter mixed with songs gives everyone a commonality, a safe way to continue the conversation about diversity in all its forms. I wish it didn’t sound strange to say, but my favorite thing about being a part of Memphis is the diversity of the cast. In past theatre experiences—before moving to Columbia—finding African Americans to fill roles was difficult. I think it’s a testament not only to Trustus, but to Columbia’s arts scene, that everyone feels welcomed, their skills and talents are encouraged, and that there are opportunities to perform.”

Memphis will run from Friday, June 29 through to Saturday, July 28, 2018 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Tickets are $30 each for Thursday and Sunday shows and $35 for Friday and Saturday shows. Student tickets are $25 each. Opening night is Friday, June 29 at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, June 30, at 8pm; Thursday, July 5, at 7:30pm; Friday, July 6, at 8pm; Saturday, July 7, at 8pm; Sunday, July 8, at 3pm; Thursday, July 12, at 7:30pm; Friday, July 13, at 8pm; Saturday, July 14, at 8pm; Sunday, July 15, at 3pm; Thursday, July 19, at 7:30pm; Friday, July 20, at 8pm; Saturday, July 21, at 8pm; Sunday, July 22, at 3pm; Thursday, July 26, at 7:30pm; Friday, July 27, at 8pm; and Saturday, July 28, at 8pm.

A Talk-Back with cast and panelists will follow the performance on Sunday, July 22, 2018. The Memphis Band is sponsored by Gillian and Helmut Albrecht.


More than a dark comedy about gender, HIR is set to make its debut on Trustus Theatre’s Main Stage this June as the theatre continues to bring thought-provoking, conversation-starting pieces to their Season 33, “Eyes Open.” This play will open in Trustus Theatre’s Side Door Theatre on Friday, June 1 and will have a limited run through Saturday, June 9. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father who’s had a stroke. Isaac has developed PTSD, and when he finds his childhood home in revolt upon his return, his challenges increase. His mother, now liberated from an oppressive marriage, is on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling (and their mother’s greatest ally) is also ready to educate Isaac on all he’s missed while he’s been away in regards to gender issues. The world Isaac knew as “home” no longer exists. In Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, we begin to see that attempting to annihilate the past doesn’t always free you from it.

HIR was written by Taylor Mac and will be directed by director Lindsay Rae Taylor. Tristan Pack will play Isaac, Ripley Thames will play Arnold, Isaac’s father; Libby Campbell will play Paige, Isacc’s mother; and Sebastion Liafsha will play Max, Isaac’s sibling.

“I love the boldness of Taylor Mac’s script and am so thrilled to have the opportunity to work on it,” Lindsay Rae Taylor said. “It is so relevant and gritty with edgy dialogue and broad characters. It is an important piece of theatre and it has been soon satisfying breaking it down with the actors and bringing HIR to life. The cast is an absolute dream. They are all exceptional artists and they have a generosity of spirit that is so necessary for this process. They are not afraid to take risks and they have been so playful in our exploration. They have discovered the depth of these characters with humility and ease, while also jumping at every opportunity to make the room laugh.

“At its core, HIR explores familial relationships. It also addresses the decline of the middle class, as Taylor Mac says ‘where the American Dream got stuck in an American reality.’ This play touches on so many timely themes associated with a dysfunctional family and otherwise—adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse, physical abuse, gender identity, war veteran PTSD, feminism… I am most certainly leaving something out. Taylor Mac goes for it, leaving no controversial stone unturned.”

HIR will run from Friday, June 1 through Saturday, June 9, 2018 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Tickets are $25 each for general admission and are $20 each for students. Opening night is Friday, June 1, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, June 2 at 8pm; Sunday, June 3, at 3pm; Wednesday, June 6, at 7:30pm; Thursday, June 7, at 7:30pm; Friday, June 8, at 8pm; Saturday, June 9, at 2pm; and Saturday, June 9, at 8pm. A Talk-Back with cast and panelists will follow the performance on Sunday, June 3.

Sunset Baby

Trustus Theatre is continuing their 33rd season by bringing Sunset Baby to the Richard and Debbie Cohn Side Door stage this February. It’s a dynamic tale of love, loss, and family in a world where love has become a liability and the most attractive feature is the ability to survive. Revolution spans the generations and is seen by very differently by a daughter and her estranged father, who has come back into her life as he seeks a stack of old love letters and the hope of reconciliation. This show will open on Friday, February 23 and will run through Saturday, March 3, 2018. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Kenyatta Shakur was a Black Revolutionary in the 80s—a legend in his own right. Now that his wife and fellow-revolutionary has died, Kenyatta is desperate to reconnect with Nina, his estranged daughter. However, Nina is now a successful hustler who sees revolution in her own way. She and her boyfriend Damon have big plans of locking down a few more jobs before leaving the country forever, which leaves Kenyatta fighting an impending deadline as he tries to reconcile his past and conquer his most challenging revolution of all—fatherhood. Sunset Baby is an energized, vibrant, and witty look at the point where the personal and political collide, and is by one of the most exciting and distinctive voices in American playwriting: Dominique Morisseau.

Sunset Baby will be directed by Bakari Lebby and stars Devin Anderson as Nina, Raj Karottukunnel as Nina’s boyfriend Damon, and Larry Davoll as Nina’s father Kenyatta.

“There are many messages with, in, and around Sunset Baby,” said Anderson. “The first one is that people of color have this ability to make something of nothing. There is the question of reparations, and how do you claim them not just socially, but familial as well. It’s about struggling with societal norms even within our own communities, but still being able to find and create beauty in spite of the chaos. This play has some heavy material but it’s about rising like a phoenix from the ashes. It’s about celebrating blackness unapologetically. No message you get from this place is more important than the next. That’s the beauty of black culture, black art. It isn’t one dimensional, it’s fluid. It will break your heart and make you smile all in one breath, and that’s exactly what we have done with Sunset Baby.”

Stay after the show on Friday, March 2 to enjoy an improv comedy show from the very same group that brought you the holiday comedy A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall: The Mothers. Tickets for the comedy show will be sold at the door for $10 ($5 for students) and are all general admission.

Sunset Baby will run from Friday, February 23 through to Saturday, March 3, 2018 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Tickets are $25 for all performances and student tickets are $20 each. Opening night is Friday, February 23, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, February 24, at 8pm; Sunday, February 25, at 3pm; Thursday, March 1, at 7:30pm; Friday, March 2, at 8pm; and Saturday, March 3, at 2pm (matinee performance) and at 8pm.

Love is Love is Love

Trustus Theatre is bringing a unique Valentine’s Day celebration to the Thigpen Main Stage this month with the Love is Love is Love Cabaret. Audiences will enjoy an evening of song that explores the many wonderful types of love in our world. With tunes ranging from interpretations of top 40s hits to show tunes and jazz standards, these musical acts will make you swoon, will lift you up, and will even break your heart at times. This show will focus on the love that we have throughout a long relationship, the love we have for our close friends, the love we share for fellow humans, passionate love, and more. It’s a great date night or even a wonderful night out with friends. The Love is Love is Love Cabaret will be on stage on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 8pm and on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 8pm. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

The Greeks had six wonderful words for love: Eros (desire and passion), Philia (deep friendship), Ludus (playful love), Agape (love for everyone), Pragma (longstanding love), and Philautia (love of the self). The Love is Love is Love Cabaret at Trustus Theatre is the perfect way to explore all of the wonderful types of love in the world. An evening of song, poetry, and prose will unfod before your ears and eyes as the incredible talents of Trustus take the stage to bring you a unique and intimate evening on the Thigpen Main Stage.

Musical direction will be provided by Chris Cockrell and the cabaret will be directed by Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Chad Henderson.

“I can’t imagine a more fitting subject matter for our times,” said Henderson. “Love. No matter how you slice it, love creates much of our greatest joy and honestly, some of our greatest pain. Recently, American Theatre Magazine released an article that detailed a study where they discovered that audiences attending theatre actually find their hearts beating in sync. That’s a unique experience that only theatre can offer. It doesn’t happen when you’re watching Netflix, at a concert, or at an amusement park. However, when audiences engage with live performers who are telling stories, our hearts beat together. We truly share something that binds us and, for a time, connects us in a way that we can’t explain. I hope people will come out to enjoy Love is Love is Love so that we can all let our hearts beat together.”

Many familiar Trustus Theatre artists will be participating in Love is Love is Love Cabaret and include Kendrick Marion, Samuel McWhite, Kevin Bush, Katie Leitner, Michael Hazin, Catherine Hunsinger, Patrick Dodds, and Brittany Hammock. Special guest Preach Jacobs (who made his Trustus Theatre debut in 2017 as the narrator in A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall) will be perfoming one of his original songs and Cassidy Spencer, from the Trustus Theatre cast of Fun Home, will make an appearance to give the audience a taste of the upcoming production.

Love is Love is Love Cabaret will be on stage for two nights only: Friday, February 16, 2018 and Saturday, February 17, 2018. Both shows will begin at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Tickets are $15 a piece or you can purchase the Venus Package for $40 which includes two tickets and a bottle of champagne.

A Bright Room Called Day

Trustus Theatre is continuing their Season 33 theme, Eyes Open, with their upcoming production of A Bright Room Called Day by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Kushner. At the beginning of 1932 in Germany, the political landscape has begun to shift as the Nazis win control of the parliament for the first time. How would the small, seemingly inconsequential, actions that followed change the world of Agnes Eggling and her friends? What came next was more unthinkable than they could have ever imagined. This show will open on Friday, January 19 and will run through Saturday, February 3, 2018. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angels in America (the first show in Trustus history to sell out before it opened) comes this powerful portrayal of individual dissolution and resolution in the face of political catastrophe. Agnes Eggling and a bohemian group of friends gather in her cozy Berlin apartment to celebrate New Year’s Eve, 1932—the year the Nazis win parliamentary control and ultimately propel Hitler to power. At first, they can’t imagine anything will come of these political changes, but soon realize that the unthinkable is becoming the new normal. Interrupting this is Zillah Katz, a self-confessed paranoiac and left-wing crusader who scours the media daily from her tiny modern-day New York apartment, demanding that we examine our own political landscape. Tony Kushner’s epic, fantastical and witty play, A Bright Room Called Day, challenges us to face the world’s evils, both large and small, so we may stop the unthinkable from ever becoming normal again.

A Bright Room Called Day was written by Tony Kushner and will be directed by Erin Wilson. Wilson, who is the daughter of Trustus Theatre’s founding Artistic Director Jim Thigpen, says that he would have been on board with this play performing at the theatre. “He believed that theatre has a commitment to be a voice for change and illumination and conversation—to leave the audience at the end of the performance satisfied with the entertainment and still thinking about the ideas the next day. This play allows folks a glimpse into the lives and hearts of people that we think are so different than we are, but are actually way more similar than we ever imagined. I think he’d really dig this play and production.”

“I think that the most important message from this play is that no one can stand by and do nothing. If you see something, say something,” said Wilson. “I think that it’s true that the people who feel and see that something is happening that hurts or divides people, those that are too afraid to rock the boat, are as culpable as the ones who actively hurt and divide. I believe in radical and active empathy—and sometimes that requires us to be uncomfortable, maybe even scared, but what else are we put on this earth for except to love and care for each other? I think this play is a really clear example of the importance of that idea. History is a great teacher and I’m hoping that we finally allow ourselves to learn its lessons.”

Krista Forster (of Season 33’s Barbecue and A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall) will play the main character in A Bright Room Called Day, Agnes Eggling.

“The emotional journey of all of the characters in the play is so compelling and engrossing that I think any audience member, regardless of their political beliefs, will relate to and be touched by the humanity of their joys and struggles during the time period,” said Forster. “It is also a show that will generate lots of post-show conversation. I think it would be an excellent one to come see with a group of friends and have a lively discussion afterwards. Erin Wilson is an amazing director and this is one of the best group of actors I have ever worked with—this is definitely a show not to be missed!”

Stay after the shows on Friday, January 26 and on Friday, February 2 to enjoy an improv comedy show from the very same group that brought you the holiday comedy A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall: The Mothers. Tickets for the comedy show will be sold at the door for $10 ($5 for students) and are all general admission.

A Bright Room Called Day will run from Friday, January 19 through to Saturday, February 3, 2018 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Tickets are $25 for Wednesday and Sunday shows and $28 for Friday and Saturday shows. Student tickets are $20 each. Opening night is Friday, January 19, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, January 20, at 8pm; Sunday, January 21, at 3pm; Thursday, January 25, at 7:30pm; Friday, January 26, at 8pm; Saturday, January 27, at 8pm; Sunday, January 28, at 3pm; Thursday, February 1, at 7:30pm; Friday, February 2, at 8pm; and Saturday, February 3, at 8pm. A Talk-Back with cast and panelists will follow the performance on January 28.

A Festive Week at Trustus

This week is full of so much festive cheer at Trustus Theatre! From a jazzy Christmas concert to the closing weekend of our original production of A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall and the annual Trustus Holiday party, there are multiple opportunities to get festive with us. Join us in all of the holiday cheer and fun festivities!

Here’s what’s on tap at Trustus this week:

Mark Rapp’s Jingle Bell Jazz
Tuesday, December 12 7:30pm
Don’t wait to purchase your tickets for this one—there are less than two dozen seats left! Mark Rapp and his quintet are bringing you a grooving, swinging, funky fun Christmas Concert that will leave you toasty, warm, and happy for the holidays. He, along with Bert Ligon, have taken favorite holiday classics and have created a new arrangement for each one to bring you fresh, brand new tunes.
This show has sold out the past two years & is on track to do the same this year. Hurry and secure your ticket today!

A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall (at Trustus Theatre!)
Wednesday, December 13 – Saturday, December 16
There are only four more chances to catch this original piece written by The Mothers on our Main Stage. With fictional Flarnes & Flobles leaving the mall, a ragtag, loveable group of shop owners and employees have to try and raise $30,000 before Christmas. With a lot of snark and an 80s-style montage of fundraiser ideas, they band together to try and pull off a miracle. Can they do it? Come find out! We still have tickets available for the four remaining performances this week. Don’t miss your final opportunity to see this original production on our Main Stage!

The Mother’s Yuletide Sketch Show
Friday, December 15 11:15pm
The Mother’s are bringing Saturday Night Live-style sketches to you this Friday evening after Friday evening’s performance of A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall. Come out for the last sketch show of 2017 and enjoy a late night evening of laughs, holiday cheer, and libations from the Trustus bar.
Tickets are general admission and are $10 at the door ($5 for students).

Trustus Theatre Holiday Party
Sunday, December 17 6pm
With plenty of food for you to enjoy, a cash bar, entertainment, awards, and general merriment, this is an evening at Trustus Theatre that you don’t want to miss. It’s our way of saying thank you to our wonderful members and patrons for the talent and support that they’ve brought to the theatre this year. All are welcome!

We hope to see you at Trustus this week!

A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall

Trustus Theatre is producing three world premiere shows on their Main Stage this season, and the first of these exciting productions is finally here: A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall. This show by Columbians and for Columbians opens on the Trustus Theatre’s Thigpen Main Stage on Friday, December 1 and runs through Saturday, December 16, 2017. Shows run Wednesday through Sunday for three packed weeks. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Trustus Theatre’s resident sketch comedy and improv troupe, The Mothers, have created an original piece that just might become a holiday staple here in Columbia! The Richland Fashion Mall lies dormant during another holiday season that should be bustling with shoppers and children jumping on Santa’s lap. This year is particularly hard, and the owner of the resident Christmas store is going to need a real miracle to keep her livelihood. Throw in visits from the owners of the glass figuring store next door (featuring Trustus Company member Gerald Floyd), uppity employees from the popular big-chain book store down the way, and hijinks involving many other wild and lovable mallrats—let’s just say that it’s beginning to look at lot like one crazy Christmas.

A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall is an original creation that was written by The Mothers (Kayla Cahill, Jennifer Hill, Amir Jenkins, Martha Hearn Kelly, Patrick Michael Kelly, Daniel Machado, Abigail McNeely, Mike Morales, Jonathan Monk, and Russell Sanders) and will be directed by Trustus Company Member and member of The Mothers, Abigail McNeely.

“I was having some difficulty finding the right production for the Holidays here at Trustus,” said Artistic Director Chad Henderson. “I knew that I wanted something fun, but didn’t want to revive any of the productions we had produced over the past four years.” Henderson suspected that The Mothers might provide the answer to this search for a new Holiday comedy. He met with Martha Kelly, director of The Mothers, and that conversation has since developed into the play that will be revealed on December 1st. “It’s an important part of our mission to produce original works. This season, we’re producing three premieres. There’s something that’s so rewarding about staging original works, especially when they’re created on the ground floor by South Carolinians. A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall is a big step in a great artistic direction for the theatre. I think Columbia will be proud when it supports new work.”

The show’s director, Trustus Company Member Abigail McNeely, expounds upon how the show is local, homegrown, and will be familiar to Columbia audiences. “The number one reason someone should see this play is this: this play is quintessentially Christmas, quintessentially Columbia, and quintessentially Trustus. There’s so much Christmas spirit in the show—there’s Santa, cookies, and a big Christmas reveal. It is also full of little hidden gems that those audience members from the area will identify with in a second—mentions of a famous meat-and-three plate and The Nickelodeon are two that stand out to me. Plus, this show is perfect for Trustus because it is a brand new work. Trustus has always been dedicated to producing new, modern works and this is no different. This is proof that new work doesn’t have to come from New York or Chicago—it can be created right here in Columbia, too!”

Stay after the shows on Friday, December 8 and on Friday, December 15 to enjoy a comedy show from the very same group that is bringing you A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall: The Mothers. Tickets for the comedy show will be sold at the door for $10 ($5 for students) and are all general admission.

“It’s a Mothers overload,” McNeely said. “Our December 8th show is our improv show and everything is made up on the spot. We take suggestions from the audience for this one, so they get to be a part of it too. The December 15th show is our sketch show, where each of [The Mothers] have submitted scripts for the sketches. It’s so much fun to put together a show with so many different types of sketches, plus it’s like getting to watch Saturday Night Live live and there’s a bar! Come laugh with us!”

A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall will run from Friday, December 1 – Saturday, December 16, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, December 1, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, December 2, at 8pm; Sunday, December 3, at 3pm; Wednesday, December 6, at 7:30pm; Thursday, December 7, at 7:30pm; Friday, December 8, at 8pm; Saturday, December 9, at 8pm; Sunday, December 10, at 3pm; Wednesday, December 13, at 7:30pm; Thursday, December 14, at 7:30pm; Friday, December 15, at 8pm; and Saturday, December 16, at 8pm. A Talk-Back with cast and panelists will follow the performance on December 10.

Giving Tuesday

Trustus Theatre Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement with the start of our Holiday Miracle Giving Campaign!

Trustus Theatre has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. We are kicking off our Holiday Miracle Giving Campaign on this date to encourage you to make a donation to your theatre, Trustus Theatre!

Please make a donation at any level today and help us reach our goal of 50 donations!

Trustus Holiday Ornament!

With your $100 or more gift to Trustus Theatre we will send you your very own collectible Trustus Holiday Ornament.

This beautiful ornament will be rushed to you in time to hang on your tree for the holidays. Click this link to make your donation and receive this ornament as a thank you for your support!

Our goal is 50 donations to Trustus today so please click this link and help us reach our goal. Please remember you can GIVE ANY AMOUNT! All 2017 Holiday Miracle Donors will be featured prominently on a wall in Trustus Theatre.

The Encore Club is back for the Holidays!

For those of you who wish to invest in Trustus Theatre at the $1,000 or more level we will place a special star on a seat in the Thigpen Main Stage in your honor.

Please contact Development Director, Brad Martin, at [email protected] for more information or CLICK HERE to make a donation at this level.

State of the Theatre

Trustus Theatre ended its most recent fiscal year in August 2017, and ended it in the black. As the theatre enters its 33rd Season in Columbia, SC, it is positioned to not only create meaningful programming on both of its stages but will also boast new programs that will bring the power of theatre to the community by making it available in public settings.

The narrative surrounding Trustus for the past three seasons has been focused on transition, growing pains, and financial burden. However, the story has changed in the theatre’s 33rd Season as it is producing over a dozen productions in the coming season including three world premieres and various award-winning scripts. Moreover, a solid staff is united towards one goal: making Trustus the most influential theatre in South Carolina.

Trustus had been without a full time Director of Development for one and half seasons. The previous Director was Debbie Cohn, who was responsible for the last capital campaign that brought in a new sound system as well as the renovations to the Trustus bar. At the end of last season, Brad Martin was hired by the Trustus Board of Directors as the new full time Director of Development.

Considering that the theatre hadn’t had a committed Development Director for most of Season 32, the fact that Trustus not only balanced their budget, but also landed in the black for Season 32 is a huge testament to the community’s support via ticket sales and donations. Ticket sales account for about 33% of the theatre’s operating budget, a percentage that is a text book figure for performing arts non-profits. However, while donations were lower in Season 32 than in previous years due to the lack of a development director, the ticket sales sky rocketed and allowed the theatre to stay afloat while the staff continued to transition and form into the current group that is managing the theatre’s daily operations. Obviously, the Midlands community was craving though provoking work and showed their support by purchasing tickets.

In its 33rd Season, the organization is excited to take the Trustus experience beyond the walls of the building on Lady Street. Trustus is partnering with the Columbia Museum of Art to present free short improv and sketch comedy sets from Trustus’ resident comedy troupe, The Mothers. These free Mothers sets are presented at 6:30pm at the CMA during each First Thursday on Main Street. This allows Midlands residents to experience an offering of comedic performance that is popular in larger markets such as New York City and Chicago.

Trustus is also partnering with the Richland County Public Library this season to provide free readings of 20th Century American classics featuring professional actors from the Trustus Company.

The Trustus Apprentice Company has returned to its original goal of providing energetic and bright high-school theatre students from the Midlands area with free monthly workshops focused on various topics and led by theatre professionals. This program lasts for the duration of the academic school year and also provides its students with the opportunity to work on Trustus Main Stage and Cohn Side Door Productions.

Trustus is producing three original works this season, all of them created by local South Carolina artists. A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall will make its debut on the Thigpen Main Stage this December. This original Columbia-based comedy is written by Trustus’ resident sketch comedy and improv troupe, The Mothers. In the Spring, Trustus will premiere The Restoration’s Constance, an original musical based on the concept album of the same name by Columbia band The Restoration. The Restoration’s Constance is historical fiction that takes place in Lexington, South Carolina. The music and lyrics are by Daniel Machado, Adam Corbett, and The Restoration. The book is by Trustus Artistic Director Chad Henderson. This summer, Trustus will end its season with Boy About Ten, a world premiere play by SC playwright Jon Tuttle.

With so much on the horizon, it is clear that Trustus Theatre is positioned to make bold strides into the organization’s future. The era of transition has settled, and the staff, Trustus Company, and the Board of Directors are ready to explore what the next thirty years can bring.

Annual Fund Renewal Campaign


We kicked off our fall Annual Fund Renewal Campaign back in the beginning of September, and thanks to all the wonderful Trustus patrons and supporters, we are almost halfway to our goal of 200 donors and $50,000.

I’m excited! When I took over as Development Director here at Trustus I heard that the support for this theatre was incredible. Now I have seen it firsthand. And, I have found out quickly why people love this theatre. It’s because of the people. It’s because of the people like Artistic Director, Chad Henderson and Technical Director, Brandon McIver. It’s because of Production Manager, Patrick Kelly, and all the stage managers, designers and company members who work tirelessly every day to put on the best stage productions in all the Carolinas.

I’ve seen this commitment first hand. Just recently, I worked on a grant with our Education Coordinator, Martha Hearn-Kelly. Martha not only works with Trustus Theatre, she is a public school drama teacher in Columbia, and she leads the Trustus sketch comedy troupe, The Mothers. In addition to all the other work she does she spent hours on her own working to collaborate with me on this particular grant. And this isn’t the exception…this is what everyone here does.

You want to know where all this started and why folks pour their hearts into this theatre? It’s because of Jim and Kay Thigpen, who started Trustus Theatre back in 1985. When they bought a building in a rundown part of town called The Vista there was very little around. Without their vision and commitment, The Vista would not be what it is today. At the end of August when Jim Thigpen passed away the theatre overflowed with fans, friends, family members and patrons all here to honor the legacy and memory of Jim Thigpen. He and Kay have been loved and respected by the arts community in this area for decades, and the people that come to this theatre everyday work hard to honor their legacy.

Recently I spoke with Kay and she wanted to write a brief note. She asks for the help of patrons and donors again.

Trustus lives! Five years after Jim & I retired, Trustus thrives. There is no better legacy we could have possibly wished for. A lot of changes have been made as this fantastic group of young people found their way. None of this would have been possible, however, without you & your faith, your commitment & your donations. So yes, I’m asking once again. If you’re a past donor, please continue. If you’re new to Trustus, I promise you will not be disappointed. After all, not only is this professional theatre, but it’s the best theatre! Please be a part of it.

Kay Thigpen, Co-founder

There is not much more that I can add. Please take a moment to make a donation to Trustus Theatre. CLICK HERE to make your donation to Trustus Theatre today.

Thank you so much,

Brad Martin

Director of Development
Trustus Theatre
[email protected]

Evil Dead, The Musical

What could possibly go wrong when five college kids break into an abandoned, secluded cabin in the woods, especially when nobody else knows where they are? Find out at Trustus Theatre this October as the hit show Evil Dead, The Musical returns to the Thigpen Main Stage. Evil Dead, The Musical will run from Friday, October 27 through Saturday, November 11, 2017. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

Audiences went crazy over the Trustus production in 2014, and have been asking for it ever since. Three years later, they’re bringing back this hilarious live stage show along with several of the original cast members. This show takes all of the elements of the cult classic films, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness and combines them for one of the craziest theatrical experiences of all time. Five college students go to an abandoned cabin in the woods, and accidentally unleash an evil force that turns them all into demons. It’s all up to Ash (a housewares employee turned demon-killing hero), and his trusty chainsaw to save the day. Blood flies. Limbs are dismembered. Demons tell really bad jokes, and it is all set to music. The songs in the show are completely off the wall with titles like “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons” and “What the F**k Was That?” The show is pure comedy and will have audiences laughing and screaming for more and more blood.

The book and lyrics of Evil Dead, The Musical were written by George Reinblatt and the music was written by George Reinblatt, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, and Frank Cipolla. Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Chad Henderson, is the director and the Music Direction will be provided by Randy Moore.

“We had so much fun producing Evil Dead, The Musical in 2014, and the company members who were in the original production were hinting that they were ready to do it again,” said Henderson. “It’s also one of those productions that people ask us about a lot. So—it’s back on our main stage just in time for Halloween. Evil Dead is pure fun, and it’s also a musical that could only be produced by Trustus Theatre here in Columbia. At Trustus we like producing thoughtful and meaningful works, but sometimes we just need a laugh. Evil Dead is the perfect prescription for folks looking for a break from our political landscape. We’re having an incredible time re-working this piece. We’ve got four new cast members coming on board with four of our original cast members, we’ve changed the scenic design a bit, and we’re reimagining some of the effects.”

Katie Leitner, who will be stepping into the role of Cheryl for the first time, says, “There is a balance you have to find between honoring what made the original production successful and making the role your own. The cast and our director have been great in helping us find that balance. Without giving anything away, I think that the production quality has been amped up with regards to blood, sound, and set effects. If you decide to spend your Halloween season with us, you can be sure that you will be in for a few tricks but most definitely a treat!”

Join Trustus Theatre for a Zombie Block Party outside of the theatre on Lady Street on Friday, October 27 from 6pm – 7:30pm before the opening of Evil Dead, The Musical. Local food truck, Wurst Wagen, will be in attendance in addition to happy hour drinks in the Trustus Theatre bar (Happy Hour lasts from 6-7pm), music by DJ Preach Jacobs, zombie face-painting, and plenty of fun. There will also be a costume contest—come dressed in your best zombie attire!

Evil Dead, The Musical will run from Friday, October 27 – Saturday, November 11, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, October 27, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, October 28, at 8pm; Sunday, October 29, at 3pm; Tuesday, October 31, at 7:30pm; Wednesday, November 1, at 7:30pm; Thursday, November 2, at 7:30pm; Friday, November 3, at 8pm; Saturday, November 4, at 8pm; Sunday, November 5, at 3pm; Tuesday, November 7, at 7:30pm; Wednesday, November 8, at 7:30pm; Thursday, November 9, at 7:30pm; Friday, November 10, at 8pm; and Saturday, November 11, at 2pm (matinee) and 8pm.

Evil Dead, The Musical is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Department of Sport and Entertainment Management.


“Trustus Technical Director Brandon McIver has been with Trustus for over a decade, and his work has brought countless sets and technical designs to our stages in that time. He’s ready to uproot and head to another city to explore new opportunities. So while we’re sad to see him go, we support his decision to go try something new in life. Go get em Brandon!  Therefore, Trustus is seeking a new Technical Director to start in late October. Please see the following information if you are interested in applying.” – Chad Henderson, Artistic Director

Technical Director at TRUSTUS THEATRE (Columbia, SC)

Position Responsibilities:

The Technical Director has the daily responsibility for the technical operations of the theatre, including scenic construction, lighting, sound, performing facility maintenance, and coordinating contractors for other necessary facility maintenance. The Technical Director works with and oversees the Assistant Technical Director, and any other volunteers or contractors who perform technical operations. The Technical Director works with a great deal of independence and exercises independent judgment in performing a wide variety of duties. Technical Director reports to the Artistic Director.


  • Commitment to the mission and values of Trustus Theatre
  • Incredibly proficient at carpentry
  • Associate’s degree required; Bachelor’s degree desirable.
  • 3-5 Year Experience as member of Theater Technical Staff and Facility Management
  • 2+ year experience in Management and Supervision
  • Significant, demonstrable experience as a technical director in professional, community, or university theatre.
  • Demonstration of effective mentoring and supporting of volunteers.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and cordially with fellow staff, designers, stage managers, and guest artists and directors.
  • The ability to successfully guide and support technical staff and technicians in the realization of designers’ expectations and vision.
  • Evidence of sensitivity to and an understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, and ethnic backgrounds of staff and contractors.
  • Evidence to meet deadlines with quality results
  • Evidence to monitor expenditures and staying within material budgets

Trustus Theatre Mission:

Trustus Theatre and the Trustus Company endeavors to enrich the lives and deepen the experiences of our artists and patrons by producing works that examine humanity in the 21st Century. The theatre’s goal is to select challenging scripts that will start and nurture dialogues that promote discussion within the community with productions that are brought to life through dynamic storytelling and inventive designs. Trustus will embrace the creation of original works crafted by local and nationwide artists. Our success will be measured by our commitment to collaboration and innovation, while our impact will be measured by the creation of a more diverse and vibrant Columbia.

Additional Information:

Classification Level: Full Time
Salary and Benefits: Salary commensurate with experience
Application Deadline: October 10th, 2017 or until position is filled
Start Date: October 30th, 2017
Please send a letter of interest and a current resume to:

Via e-mail (preferred): [email protected]

Via postal mail:
Attn: Chad Henderson
Trustus Theatre
520 Lady St.
Columbia, SC 29201

Trustus Theatre is an Equal Opportunity Employer
See our website at

Trustus Theatre Kicks Off Fall
Giving Campaign

Have you thought about supporting your local theater? Do you understand the value it brings to the community? We all talk about and realize that arts and culture are integral parts of our society, and the arts community in Columbia, SC, has been growing exponentially over the recent years. But Trustus is so much more than a community theatre.

At Trustus Theatre you see shows that make you smile, laugh, think and at times even cringe. We believe in art that draws you out of your comfort zone, opening your eyes to the amazing creativity of the human mind. A story told through the eyes of a talented playwright can lead us toward a better understanding of the many complex issues facing our society today.

When you reach beyond your financial comfort zone and support Trustus Theatre you help us continue to produce plays and musicals that challenge and unite our community. Ticket sales only cover a third of our expenses. Grants, corporate sponsors, and donations from loving, giving theater fans like you make up the rest.

Please take a look at the donation levels and give to the Trustus Theatre Annual Fund. With your donation you will be able to enjoy several exciting new benefits to say thank you so much for your support:

  1. The best seats in the house will be reserved for donors and Flex Pass Holders only. You will have access to purchase these seats before anyone else starting one month before each show. We will release these seats to the general public one week before each show opening, so you’ll want to take advantage of this exclusive offer in plenty of time to pick your favorite seats.
  2. With your donation of $200 or more you will receive a card that will give you access to one free drink from the bar before every show you attend.
  3. For donors at the $500 and above level, before opening night of each show we will have a donor party where you’ll get to meet the cast, talk to the director and enjoy food and beverages on us.
  4. With your donation of $1,000 or more we will give you exclusive access to our preview nights and technical rehearsals prior to each opening.

With your support, Trustus will also be able to reach beyond our four walls and into the community. Trustus is partnering with One Columbia to provide free viewings of Improv Comedy from our resident sketch and improv troupe, The Mothers. We are also working with the award-winning Richland County Public Library to develop a series of public readings of classic plays featuring the Trustus company of professional theater artists.

Please take a minute to give to the Trustus Annual Fund today.

CLICK HERE to donate to the Trustus Theatre Annual Fund. Or you can write a check made out to Trustus Theatre and mail it to: Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St., Columbia, SC 29201.

Thank you so very much for your support. I hope to see you at a Trustus Theatre show this year.



Brad Martin
Director of Development
Trustus Theatre


Trustus Theatre kicks off Season 33: EYES OPEN with Robert O’Hara’s Barbecue on the Thigpen Main Stage this September. Leading off with an intervention, not-so-skillfully masquerading as a family get together in the local park, Barbecue brings together a family, each with their own form of addiction, trying to wrangle the most addicted sister into a rehabilitation facility.

The O’Mallery’s, a white family, have congregated together in the town’s local park under the pretense of a family barbecue, a ruse devised by one sibling to bring out their reckless, drug-addicted sister for an intervention. Suddenly, in the middle of the first scene, the lights go down and come back up to reveal the same O’Mallery’s, with the exception that they are all black. What follows becomes raucous and unpredictable as familial stereotypes collide with hard realities, and racial politics slam up against the stories we tell – and maybe even believe – about who we were and who we’ve become.

Barbecue is written by playwright Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy) and will be directed by Ilene Fins.

Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Chad Henderson, says, “We’re incredibly proud to bring this play to Columbia, and to open our 33rd Season with it. Robert O’Hara is a great American playwright, and this work has been seen by audiences at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, and at The Public in New York City. It’s a rather new play, and a fresh examination of family, addiction and our personal ownership of our experiences. This play is a family comedy that unravels with twists and turns that take the audience down delightfully unexpected paths. This show is definitely the type of theatre that puts Trustus on the map. We’re also thrilled that we get to bring many new faces to our Main Stage with this production, as well as bringing some popular Trustus Company Members like Dewey Scott-Wiley, Elena Martinez-Vidal, Chris Cockrell and Devin Anderson together. Plus, Ilene Fins, one of Trustus’ original Company Members who directed our stirring production of Boy, is at the helm and she’s an excellent storyteller. Audiences may not have heard of this show, but once they see it, they’re going to be very glad they did. Trust us.”

Join Trustus Theatre for an incredibly unique evening in the theatre as they introduce the work of one of America’s most exciting contemporary playwrights to Columbia. Celebrate the opening of Season 33 and Barbecue on Friday, September 8th from 6-8pm with a block party outside of the theatre on Lady Street. Bone-In Barbeque food truck will be in attendance in addition to happy hour drinks in the Trustus Theatre bar, music, and plenty of fun!

Barbecue will run from September 8 – September 23, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, September 8, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, September 9, at 8pm; Sunday, September 10, at 3pm; Thursday, September 14, at 7:30pm; Friday, September 15, at 8pm; Saturday, September 16, at 8pm; Sunday, September 17, at 3pm; Thursday, September 21 at 7:30pm; Friday, September 22 at 8pm; and Saturday, September 23, at 8pm.

Black Super Hero Magic Mama

Trustus Theatre brings 2016 Playwrights’ Festival Winner Black Super Hero Magic Mama to the Thigpen Mainstage this August in its East Coast Premiere. Black Super Hero Magic Mama is a play that will inspire a shift of perspective when it comes to the way that our nation views the current social situation surrounding black youth, police forces, and the commentary provided by journalists. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at 803-254-9732.

A single mother, Sabrina Jackson, is unable to cope with the shooting death of her 14-year-old son Tremarion by a white police officer. Rather than become yet another grieving black mother leading community rallies, Sabrina escapes into her own mind. There, she lives out a comic book fantasy where she is a super hero crime fighter, mimicking the Maasai Angel comic book that her artist son had created. Sabrina must decide if she’ll stay in the splash-and-pow world where sons don’t die, or return to the real world and mourn her loss.

Black Super Hero Magic Mama is written by playwright Inda Craig-Galván and will be directed by Stan Brown. This play was not only the winner of the 2016 Trustus Playwrights’ Festival, but the play, along with playwright Craig-Galván, also made the 2017 Kilroy’s List and the 2017 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Of Black Super Hero Magic Mama, Craig-Galván says, “I want people to leave this play thinking about perspective. View this son the way you’d view your own. Acknowledge Sabrina’s pain and grief and stop trying to take that away from her. While this is an incredibly sad topic, I don’t want to leave the audience in a puddle of tears; I want them to laugh and cheer as well.”

Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Chad Henderson, says “When I read Black Super Hero Magic Mama a year ago, I hoped that the issues explored in the piece would be a thing of the past. Sadly, these issues are still relevant and important to exploring the imperfections of our contemporary American story. The Trustus Company also agreed that this show was a strong piece, and an important story to tell right here and now – so we were passionate and motivated in choosing it as the winner of the 2016 Trustus Playwrights’ Festival. Inda’s play has received much-deserved attention since we named it the winner of the festival, and now more productions are in the works nationally. Columbia gets it first! I would also like to make sure patrons understand that while this is certainly about a grieving mother, the exploration of how she handles her grief is entirely creative and unexpected – you will be moved, but you will also be motivated to cheer. This will be a great evening in our theatre under the direction of Stan Brown.”

Black Super Hero Magic Mama will run from August 4 – August 12, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at 803-254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, August 4, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, August 5, at 8pm; Sunday, August 6, at 3pm; Wednesday, August 9, at 7:30pm; Thursday, August 10, at 7:30pm; Friday, August 11, at 8pm; Saturday, August 12, at 8pm.

Black Super Hero Magic Mama is sponsored by The Jasper Project and Travel Unlimited.

Trustus Theatre Artistic Director returns from a residency at the Studios of Key West

Trustus Artistic Director Chad Henderson has been participating in a residency with The Studios of Key West ( since July 15th. As he prepares to return to Columbia, he shares his experiences and tells us about what he’s been working on with his wife and creative partner, Dancer and Choreographer Bonnie Boiter-Jolley:

“For those who are close to me, they know that Key West is a very important place to me. It enlivens my spirit, there is a rich melting pot of various cultures, it provides inspiration around every corner, there’s delicious adult beverages everywhere, and ultimately, it’s a place where one can find quietude that allows for the mind to reset and return to that magical place where creativity exists. So, it’s quite a gift to receive an invitation from the Studios of Key West to work and create and also play in America’s eastern version of paradise.

I was introduced to the Studios of Key West in 2009 when I joined Trustus Company Members Monica Wyche and Dean Poynor, and actors Paul Kaufmann and Sydney Mitchell for a residency where we workshopped a staged reading of Poynor’s new (at that time) play, Homo Apocalyptus. That show has now seen productions in Australia and our very own Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston, SC. I’m sure it’s been performed elsewhere – it’s about a zombie apocalypse. Who wouldn’t want to see a play like that? Point is, I fell in love with Key West.

Since that first residency I’ve met my wife, Bonnie Boiter-Jolley. While we were dating we were able to come for a week in 2012 and work with TSKW during their 24 Hour Theatre Festival: One Night Stand. Point is, Bonnie fell in love with Key West as well.

Bonnie and I returned to Key West for our honeymoon in July 2015. Point is, we had fallen deeper in love with each other and were still in love with Key West.

Pardon all of the personal information – but it feels like some framework is necessary to explain that Key West is nothing new to us, but the experience we had working here over the past two weeks were new.

Our goal during this 2017 residency was to research and collect experiences that would lead to an episodic theatre and dance piece to be performed in 2018 at The Studios of Key West.

Originally, we proposed this project to TSKW as “Portraits, Strangers in a New Land.” The goal was to set a precedent for future location-specific works that could be created in other locales. While we were not strangers to Key West, we thought we could experience it differently than before – and we did.

The new strokes of beauty we found here were in engaging with folks who live here. “The Conchs,” or the locals, all have stories of what brought them here and why they stayed. From the disgruntled Hollywood professional who came here for a film shoot and never left, to the grandson of a Cuban tobacco farmer who still rolls and sells cigars the way his grandfather did on the island decades before – there’s a story in every conversation. Needless to say, we got really good at looking at a person and saying “You from here?”

We also dove into the history of the island. There’s the Navy presence, rum runners during prohibition, Flagler’s Overseas Railroad (destroyed by a Category 5 Hurricane in the 1930s), President Truman’s love for Key West, and the narrative focusing on Cuba’s influence on the island’s culture. And that’s just skimming the surface.

We were also witness to a particular phenomenon that happens every July: Hemingway Days. During this week, Hemingway look-alikes are in every bar on Duval Street and there are events all over town focused on the author’s work and gestalt. For this Papa fan, it was a truly great experience. I hope to compete after my beard has whitened completely and become fuller. We’ll give it 15 years.

The question became: how do we frame this piece? What’s the thread holding it all together? Or as one gentleman asked us, “So you’re creating a piece about Key West. Why Key West? The question is in the riddle.” Granted, we thought this guy was high as hell…but he had a point.

Much of the language concerning the Overseas Railroad which later became the Overseas Highway (US 1 is the only way to get to Key West on wheels) kept stating it was “The End of the Line.” You’ll even see this phrase (or “end of the road”) in bars or on tourist-directed merchandise. However, it seems like a new narrative came from our experience here in Key West. For many, this is “the start of a new road” or a “new beginning.”

So many find themselves coming here for a reason, and they stay here. They need this place to help them heal, escape, or to simply start over. And that’s exactly what it does. Even for an Artistic Director who’s experienced two seasons of major changes, this is a much-needed energizer (I can’t wait to get back to work with the amazing new staff at Trustus on our 33rd Season).

So now the framework exists, and Bonnie and I have the opportunity to continue to explore our experiences as we begin creating words, movements, characters, and musical explorations that we’ll piece together in an attempt to answer the “riddle” back at home in Columbia, SC. Hopefully TSKW will like what we come up with and ask us back to perform it here on the island that inspired us.

On a personal note, I’m very thankful to work for an organization and board that values its staff engaging in creative works abroad and knows that professional development is important to a thriving arts organization. Not to mention, our staff has been amazing (as they always are) in the time I’ve been gone and I get to experience another amazing gift when I return: the premiere of a new work, Black Super Hero Magic Mama.

What an amazing summer. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it is to be able to start creating a new work with my wife, and then return to my theatre home to experience an original work in production. This is an important part of Trustus’ long-standing mission, and we’re doing this even more in our 33rd Season.

Well, the time for writing is over during our last day here on the island. Time for a Cuban coffee and a swim off of South Beach where Tennessee Williams took daily swims during his time here at the “end of the line”. We’ll see you soon Columbia.”

-Chad Henderson
Artistic Director of Trustus Theatre

Welcome New Team Members

Welcome Brad, Patrick, Martha & Avery!

Brad Martin has joined Trustus as the new Director of Development. Prior to working with Trustus Theatre, he spent five years as Development Director for two non-profit performing arts organizations and 18 years managing retail stores in the Columbia area. Brad says, “I am excited to become part of the Trustus family. At Trustus, we have a history of providing engaging and entertaining productions for the Columbia community. Combine that with the exciting new education programs we are working on, and we believe Trustus Theatre will continue to develop into the destination arts organization for community residents and sponsors to invest their time and treasure.”

Patrick Michael Kelly, a Columbia native, is a theatre artist, educator, and administrator. Patrick joins Trustus as the Production Manager. He began working and training in the theatre right here at Trustus as a member of the Apprentice Company. He studied theatre at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities and in the honors program at the University of South Carolina. Patrick also graduated from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in Acting. Most recently at Trustus, Patrick acted in the 2016 Trustus Playwright’s Festival winner Anatomy of a Hug and directed this season’s production of Hand to God. He’s also an active member of The Mothers, Trustus’ resident comedy troupe.

Martha Hearn Kelly has been a member of the Trustus family since 2001 when she joined the Apprentice Company as a freshman in high school. Martha joins Trustus as the Education Coordinator. She studied theatre at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities and the University of South Carolina, and received her Masters in Educational Theatre from the City College of New York. Currently, she leads The Mothers, Trustus’ resident comedy troupe, and directs Columbia Children’s Theatre’s teen improv company, Just Happy to Be Here. Martha has also recently performed on the Trustus Stage in
Dog Sees God, Lieutenant of Inishmore, BOY and Hand to God.

Avery Bateman is a great addition to the Trustus team as our new Box Office Manager. She’s ready to take your calls or greet you in person! Avery has been seen in Dreamgirls (Lorelle Robinson), In The Red and Brown Water (Oya), A Christmas Carol (The Spirit of Christmas Past, Mrs. Cratchet, Constance, and Narrator 4), Ragtime (Sarah Brown), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Avery “BayBay” Bateman), and many other productions here at her Trustus home. Avery received her BFA in Musical Theatre at Coker College 2011.

Sex on Sunday

Trustus Theatre brings Sex on Sunday by Chisa Hutchison to the Cohn Side Door Theatre under the direction of Eric Bulltman. this July. Showing from July 7 – July 15, 2017,Sex on Sunday is a socially probing comedy about a dominatrix that is trying to fit in with her extremely conservative uptown neighbors. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at (803) 254-9732. This play is suggested for mature audiences only.
Sex on Sunday explores how we deal with our desires, fetishes, taboos, and the world around us that may not understand. When Laila moves into a new place uptown, surrounded by conservative, nosey, and catty neighbors, she has to work a little harder than most to fit in. Laila is trying her best to make new connections while keeping her business private – which becomes increasingly difficult when she starts dating a submissive, and her neighbors start looking closer into her career. Laila’s life becomes even more difficult when the husband of one of those neighbors becomes obsessed with Laila and blackmails her into offering him her service. Sex on Sunday masterfully challenges taboos on sex, race, relationships, and gender bias leaving everyone involved begging for more.

Chisa Hutchinson’s work will make its South Carolina premiere with Trustus’ production of Sex on Sunday. Chisa has been receiving a lot of attention in the NYC theatre scene. This summer her most recent play, Somebody’s Daughter, premiered and received an extended run at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre; the theatre that was responsible for 2017 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen. As a four-year member of the New Dramatists, Chisa has received many awards for her writing including the Lanford Wilson award.

Trustus Artistic Director Chad Henderson was excited to bring this work by Chisa Hutchison to the Cohn Side Door Theatre. “Sex on Sunday is incredibly funny, and devilishly enticing as a piece of theatre,” said Henderson. “Chisa Hutchinson is a new voice in the American Theatre, and she is getting a lot of attention these days. Trustus continually strives to bring exciting contemporary works to the Capital City so that our patrons can see it here first. Sex on Sunday delves into social expectations, the masks we wear in the public, and the lives we live in private – all rather universal explorations that audiences can relate to. In a time when we’re extremely connected and willing to share our lives and experiences through social media and other platforms, this play is interesting to me because it examines an aspect of the human experience that society often expects us to keep private or locked away: our sexuality. Through the journey of these characters, we get to see how our private lives can become complicated once privacy begins to thin and our true selves are laid bare – no pun intended. This will be an incredibly fun piece for audiences this summer, and an especially tantalizing date night.”

Sex on Sunday will run from July 7 – July 15, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at (803) 254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, July 8, at 8pm; Sunday, July 9, at 3pm; Wednesday, July 12, at 7:30pm; Thursday, July 13, at 7:30pm; Friday, July 14, at 8pm; Saturday, July 15, at 8pm.

Photos by Singing Fox Creative

Rock of Ages

Trustus Theatre brings the hit musical Rock of Ages by Chris D’Arienzo to the Thigpen Main Stage this summer. Showing from June 2 – July 1, 2017, this show brings chart-topping 1980s hair-band tunes together for a musical where the audience will be singing along all evening. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Trustus Box Office at (803) 254-9732.

By the end of the 1980s,Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip has definitely seen it’s better days. The sex, drugs and rock and roll scene has been raging hard but the fairytale is about to be shattered, as those at the storied Bourbon Room venue are well aware. German developers have come to town and they’re not leaving until they have thrown out the wild party venues and implemented a more “clean living” atmosphere along the Strip. Drew, resident toilet cleaner, is waiting for his chance to take the stage at the Bourbon Room while he chases after Sherrie, a small-town girl who has just moved to Hollywood with stars in her eyes. Will Drew get his big break on stage? Will he get the girl? Will all chaos break loose in an effort to save the Strip? Travel back to the 1980s with Rock of Ages to see if Drew, Sherrie and the gang can save the Strip – and themselves – before it’s too late.

The book was written by Chris D’Arienzo and the musical is directed by Trustus Company Member Dewey Scott-Wiley (Rent, Hair, Reefer Madness The Musical). Music direction is by Trustus Company Member Christopher Cockrell (The Rocky Horror Show, American Idiot) and and Columbia dance artist Monessa Salley of TO Dance Inc. makes her choreographic debut with this production. Rock of Ages features music by Journey, Styx, REO Speedwago, Pat Benetar, Poison, Foreigner, Twisted Sister, Night Ranger, and many more.

Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director and Rock of Ages cast member, Chad Henderson, had this to say about the show: “There are so many out there who are nostalgic for the 80s, and the songs from that decade continue to burn holes in our heads. Rock of Ages is a self-aware musical comedy that pokes fun at the rock personalities and pop culture of the time. It’s a show about dreamers and dreams. It’s a show about how art can serve us more than shopping malls and other capitalist fare. It’s a show about standing up for what you believe in. When you wrap all of those things into one production, you have a very positive evening in the theatre that will put a smile on your face. Trust us – it’s just plain fun.”

Rock of Ages will run from June 2 – July 1, 2017 and tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Trustus Theatre Box Office at (803) 254-9732 or online at Opening night is Friday, June 2, at 8pm. The performances following are on Saturday, June 3, at 8pm; Thursday, June 8, at 7:30pm; Friday, June 9, at 8pm; Saturday, June 10, at 8pm; Sunday, June 11, at 3pm; Thursday, June 15, at 7:30pm; Friday, June 16, at 8pm; Saturday, June 17, at 8pm; Sunday, June 18, at 3pm; Thursday, June 22, at 7:30pm; Friday, June 23, at 8pm; Saturday, June 24, at 8pm; Sunday, June 25, at 3pm; Thursday, June 29, at 7:30pm; Friday, June 30, at 8pm; Saturday, July 1, at 8pm.

Rock of Ages is sponsored by FOX 102.3 and ROCK 99.7.

Hand to God

In a small town church basement in Texas, there is a puppet that has gone rogue, and it seems as though nothing anyone does will ever be enough to stop him. The foul-mouthed puppet, Tyrone, has commandeered Jason’s hand and he’s causing chaos left and right among Jason, his mother, his classmates, and his pastor. Tyrone wreaks havoc on relationships as secrets are spilled, faith is questioned, and sex and sin run rampant.

Hand to God is a hilariously dark comedy about a demonic sock puppet who leads the main characters through a twisted journey of exploring good and evil, faith and morality, and the ties that bind us.

Director of the play, Patrick Michael Kelly, states, “I think everyone can enjoy this show because it has essential elements that everyone can relate to. ‘Hand to God’ is about human beings dealing with desire, frustration, and grief; with big feelings and moral dilemmas. It’s about organized religion; about the order it provides – order we need – and how that order empowers us, and about our desire to serve something greater. It’s also about how humans create “the devil” in their image, about morality and how we choose to behave in light of it – or in spite of it.”

Trustus Theatre has partnered with Lyon Hill and Jenny Mae to create the puppet cast of Hand to God. Lyon is the Artistic Director of the Columbia Marionette Theatre, and Jenny Mae is a soft-sculpture artist whose work has been seen in films such as Mr. Magorium’s Magic Emporium. Lyon and Jennifer are also members of Spork In Hand, a local production troupe that sells out rooms when they produce their highly popular Spork In Hand Puppet Slams – a fixture at the annual Indie Grits Festival.

Tickets for the play are on sale now and can be purchased at the Trustus Theatre Box Office or online at Opening night is Friday, April 21, at 8pm. The performances following are on Sunday, April 22, at 8pm, Sunday, April 23, at 3pm, Thursday, April 27, at 7:30pm, Friday, April 28, at 8pm, Saturday, April 29, at 8pm, Thursday, May 4, at 7:30pm, Friday, May 5, at 8pm, and closes on Saturday, May 6, at 8pm.


Inspired by a true story, BOY, comes to the Trustus Cohn Side Door Theatre from January 13-January 21.

BOY tells the story of Adam Turner, a man who has to deal with the gender cards he’s given (not born with). We meet Adam on the night he meets Jenny Lafferty at a drunken Halloween party. Their flirtation and connection increases, but there seems to something that Adam isn’t’ saying.

“It is a topical play, of sorts, in that it is about gender and identity, although not transgender specifically since Adam was born male and always felt male despite the gender reassignment attempt” states Director Ilene Fins. Fins goes on to say “But most importantly, Trustus has always been known for tackling tough subjects with a sense of universal humanity and this play has a universal appeal in that we have all struggled at one time or another to feel comfortable in our skin.”

Adam’s story begins to unfold as Jenny learns that Adam is the victim of a botched medical circumcision and was raised as a female by his parents due to counsel from a popular doctor who posits that nurture can outweigh nature. BOY explores the complicated terrain of trying to find love in a new body, and the inextricable bonds between doctor and patient – creator and creation.

BOY is an important and difficult story. Trustus has always been a theatrical home for people and stories that don’t always fit in with the mainstream. Our society’s view of gender is going through huge shifts right now and this play is an exciting and moving addition to that vital conversations” states Martha Hearn, who plays Jenny in BOY.

Opening night for BOY is Friday, January 13 at 8:00 pm. Other shows are Saturday, January 14 at 8:00 pm, Sunday, January 15 at 3:00 pm, Wednesday, January 18 at 7:30 pm, Thursday, January 19 at 7:30 pm, Friday, January 20 at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, January 21 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available at the Trustus box office or online at Box office hours are Wednesday-Friday from 2-6 pm. For more information and updates, visit,, or call 803.254.9732. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #sitdownandtrustus in any social media posts pertaining to Trustus Theatre.


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Welcome to the Family

Without a doubt, the true success of Trustus Theatre is the group of core artists who call Trustus their theatrical home. These talented individuals create our productions from the ground up – and they’re all folks from right here in the Midlands. As the Artistic Director, I’m often graced with the opportunity to overhear our audiences’ reactions to the artists on stage and behind the scenes. People are often shocked to find out that the artists that create our work are their neighbors and fellow citizens of the Capital City. This goes to show that Columbia is a town teeming with talent, and that we are truly fortunate to have so many creative people living in our community.

At the end of every season Trustus Theatre welcomes new members to the Trustus Company. These individuals are integral to the artistic fabric that is woven on our stages, and they believe that Columbia deserves high quality productions and engaging programming. As our 32nd exciting season begins in September we are delighted to announce the new AND returning members of the Trustus Company that will be joining us in our efforts to tell provocative stories this season.

As Co-founder and original Artistic Director Jim Thigpen always said to new artists walking through our doors, “When you’re here, you’re family.” We want to acquaint you with the new members of the Trustus Company – the new members of our family.

patrickkellyPatrick  Michael Kelly began his career at Trustus when he was a young theatre artist in the Trustus Apprentice Company. While studying with the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of South Carolina, Patrick co-founded The Armed Chair Company along with Trustus Company Member EG Heard Engle. This college-aged company produced various late night works at Trustus, and Patrick was in the director’s chair often. Kelly also starred in various productions at Trustus including The Graduate and Hedwig and the Angry Inch amongst others. Since then he’s lived and worked in Chicago and also received an MFA in Acting from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. A member of Actors Equity Association, Patrick returned to Trustus this summer in the role of Ben in Anatomy of a Hug. He will be directing the Trustus production of Hand to God in 2017. Welcome back Patrick!

marthaMartha Hearn returns to Trustus after becoming an award-winning teacher in NYC. She received her Masters of Education in Educational Theatre from the City College of New York in 2014. She began her Trustus career as a member of the Trustus Apprentice Company, and while in college she became a member of Armed Chair Productions. During her time as an Armed Chair member, Martha acted in various productions on the Main Stage, directed in the Side Door, and was the creator and principle writer for the highly popular Loaded Late Night Sketch Comedy Series. She went on to study with The Second City, The Upright Citizens Brigade, and various clowning workshops. Martha will be overseeing the sketch comedy and improv programming in Season 32. Welcome back Martha!

devinandersonDevin Anderson recently played the fiery Whatsername in the hit Trustus production of Green Day’s American Idiot. She has been seen in other hit Trustus musicals including Dreamgirls, Godspell, and Avenue Q. You may have also seen her excellent portrayal of Celie in Workshop Theatre’s production of The Color Purple. Devin first graced our main stage in the 2011 production of Spring Awakening. Welcome Devin!

katieleitnerKatie Leitner first appeared at Trustus as Mimi in both of the hit productions of RENT in 2009 and 2010. Since then she has appeared in Avenue Q, the first two Henderson Bros. Burlesque shows, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, and Green Day’s American Idiot. Katie has also performed with the South Carolina Palmetto Opera and Opera at USC. Katie will be playing the role of Magenta in our upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show. Welcome Katie!

bakarilebbyBakari Lebby made his Trusus debut in In the Red and Brown Water. This past season Bakari returned to play the role of Elegba in The Brothers Size, which also traveled to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC this past Spring. Bakari was also a performer in our highly popular Loaded Late Night Sketch Comedy shows that came back in the Spring. He was a member of the Ensemble in this summer’s production of Green Day’s American Idiot. Bakari has been in the director’s chair for an independent production of God of Carnage and the Workshop production of Stick Fly. He also competed in the 2016 Vista Queen Pageant as Clarissa Dagger. Bakari was also one of the masterminds behind the highly successful Hoechella event that endeavored to “raise awareness and combat slut shaming, rape culture, and unjust legislation that affects people’s bodily autonomy.” Welcome Bakari!

jonathanmonkJonathan Monk returned to Columbia after being a professional actor who appeared on various Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and regional stages. A member of Actors Equity Association, Jonathan was seen in the Trustus production of Bill W. and Dr. Bob and he played the role of Peter in Trustus’ production of Peter and the Starcatcher. Jonathan has performed various solo shows as his clown character Heathcliff. Jonathan studied theatre at Carnegie Mellon University and studied sketch comedy and improv with NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade. He also appeared in both of our recent Loaded Late Night Sketch Comedy shows. Welcome Jonathan!

abigailludwigAbigail Smith Ludwig played Lin in the hit production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical – and she’ll be returning to reprise the role this season. She was a member of the Ensemble in Green Day’s American Idiot, The Restoration’s Constance, and Ragtime The Musical. She also appeared in Evil Dead the Musical in 2014. Abigail also co-styled wigs for Marie Antoinette amongst many other styling projects all over town. She has also been seen in many principle roles at Town Theatre including Sugar, West Side Story, and White Christmas. Welcome Abigail!

haleysprankleHaley Sprankle was a member of the Trustus Apprentice Company while she was in high school. Our youngest new member, Sprankle is currently a student at the University of South Carolina where she studies theatre. Haley was last seen at Trustus in the hit production of Dreamgirls in 2015. Last season Haley ran sound board for our productions of Marie Antionette and The Brothers Size (both productions). She has also choreographed numbers for our Apprentice Company Musical Theatre track. She is a member of USC’s premiere improve troupe TOAST. Welcome Haley!

Anatomy of a Hug

Anatomy of a Hug explores what happens when a convict, Iris, receives Compassionate Release from her prison sentence into her daughter Amelia’s care. A lifetime of living through beloved TV characters doesn’t prepare Amelia for the actual drama of her mother’s return or the advances of a charming co-worker, Ben. The ticking clock of her mother’s illness means Amelia must decide if her fictional life is safer than the possibility of her own story.

Anatomy of a Hug has a relatively small cast. Only four actors, and a potted plant who tends to upstage all the other characters,” says playwright Kat Ramsburg. Ramsburg goes on to say, “What I love most is that the play features two incredibly strong women in the lead roles. The two supporting characters include another strong woman and a guy who might be the quirky side-kick best friend from your favorite sit-com. Then of course, there’s the plant…”.

The Trustus Playwrights’ Festival is an annual national competition that started in 1988 where playwrights all over the country submit their work. Last season over 300 submissions were sent to Trustus. This year, the Literary Manager at the time looked at each submission, which consisted of a playwright bio, resume, play synopsis, character breakdown, setting breakdown, and a 10-page sample. After requesting the full script of a narrowed down list, it was then narrowed down to just 5 finalists. The full finalist scripts were sent to Artistic Director, Chad Henderson and Co-Artistic Director, Dewey Scott Wiley to decide upon the winner.

“We all have relationships we wish could have ended differently, be that with lovers, parents, co-workers. Anatomy of a Hug explores those choices, but in a really humorous way,” says Ramsburg.

We are so excited for Kat and being able to showcase her winning play right here at Trustus and would love for you to join us in this unique Trustus event. For more information and updates, continue to visit us here at, on facebook, on twitter or call 803.254.9732.