Advertisement
Advertisement

Loud Fridge Theatre Group kicks off first full season with campus sexual assault drama ‘Ripped’

Marcel Ferrin, left, and Amira Temple rehearse a scene from Loud Fridge Theatre Group's "Ripped."
(Courtesy of Loud Fridge Theatre Group)

Founded in 2019, Loud Fridge aims to catch people’s attention and nourish the community with plays that allow diverse communities to feel “seen”

Share

Three years ago, San Diego’s Loud Fridge Theatre Group was about to start rehearsals for the thought-provoking play “Ripped” when the pandemic arrived, shutting down the production and slamming the door shut on the fledgling company, which was launched in 2019 and had just one play under its belt before the stay-at-home order arrived.

Now, with the pandemic ebbing, Loud Fridge is back in full production mode and so is “Ripped,” which company founder John Wells III said couldn’t come at a better time. Written by former San Diegan Rachel Bublitz, the 2018 play is about the gray areas of college campus sexual assault. Just last month, the San Diego district attorney’s office decided against filing charges against three former San Diego State University football players who were accused in an alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party.

In “Ripped,” a female college freshman is sexually assaulted ... or at least she believes she was. The 80-minute play examines the meaning of consent and looks at the incident from three different viewpoints. Wells said the play’s constant tonal shifts will keep audience members guessing to the end.

“It’s one of the few plays I’ve read that forces you to respond to it. It doesn’t give answers. It asks a lot of questions. You look at what is consent and how does that change from moment to moment,” Wells said.

Amira Temple, left, and Devin Wade rehearse a scene for Loud Fridge Theatre Group's "Ripped."
(Courtesy of Loud Fridge Theatre Group)

The play stars actors Amira Temple, Marcel Ferrin and Devin Wade and is directed by Loud Fridge co-founder Kate Rose Reynolds, with Wells serving a role he describes as assistant director. He hopes the play will attract teen and college-age audiences who he feels aren’t educated as well as they should be on the topics of consent and sexual assault.

A fantasy book novelist, Wells started Loud Fridge three years ago with a goal of producing plays about marginalized people whose voices aren’t often heard. The company’s unusual name came out of an earlier brainstorming session when he was sitting around with a group of friends dreaming up possible theater company names. He tossed out Loud Fridge in as a joke because there was a buzzing refrigerator in the room that day. Flash-forward to 2019 when he was preparing to produce his first play, with Reynolds serving as director, and he needed to come up with a company name quick.

“It’s not too bad a name,” he said. “Theater should catch the attention of people and ultimately it’s meant to nourish the community, and that’s what we wanted to do with Loud Fridge Theatre Group.”

After the pandemic arrived, Wells, Reynolds and two new Loud Fridge company officers who joined the company in 2021, Eboni Muse and William “BJ” Robinson, shifted gears to produce lighter fare because, Wells said, “nobody wanted to hear a heavy show in 2020.”

During the pandemic, Loud Fridge produced some one-night shows, a poetry slam, a parody dinner theater show a burlesque show featuring all people of color. It also presented Robinson’s San Diego International Fringe Festival-born “Pandemusical Diaries,” a one-man musical that he’ll take to New Zealand later this year.

Following the production of “Ripped,” Loud Fridge has two other shows planned this season. Charlayne Woodard’s solo play “Neat,” about a Black woman telling the coming-of-age story of her brain-damaged aunt, will be co-produced by and at Scripps Ranch Theatre March 24 through April 16. The season concludes with Exal Iraheta’s “They Could Give No Name,” about an Arizona medical examiner whose fiancé, a border patrol agent, kills a young immigrant girl. Dates and location for this final show have not been announced.

Wells said his dream for Loud Fridge is that after performances he will be approached by audience members who tell him that they felt “seen” as a result of the show.

“The whole purpose of starting this company was to tell stories that have not often been told about people from different walks of life and backgrounds,” he said.

“Ripped” plays Jan. 21 through Feb. 5 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave., Chula Vista. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17.50 to $35. For tickets, visit loudfridge.com/shows.

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com


Advertisement