From the faux-rusted walls to the overstuffed couches to the full pints, Volcanic Theatre Pub feels more like your favorite local tavern than a theater venue. As it turns out, that's the point. The newly opened fringe theater is meant to challenge the traditional playhouse, structurally and thematically.
"It's a celebration of just being artistic and being real," said owner Derek Sitter. "No pretense, no tradition, no bullshit. Nothing in here will suck."
Sitter's right, the venue doesn't suck. Quite the opposite, actually. A 16-by-9-foot screen hangs over a corner stage that faces a room that could comfortably seat around 40 at the back corner of Century Center. The acoustics are great, the beer is flowing and Sitter is dreaming big for the future.
Sitter is a force in the local thespian community, heading Actors Realm classes each week and past Volcanic Theatre productions, which were mostly performed at local pubs. Sitter has brought some of the most unconventional professional theater that Bend has ever seen, including his Cascade Theatrical Company production of "Fuddy Meers" in 2011.
With plans for the new venue to be the home of more challenging live productions, cult classic and obscure films and weekly screenings of "The Walking Dead," Volcanic has the potential to become a new type of interactive venue that can draw Bend's non-traditional theatergoers.
That's something Sandy Klein, manager of 2nd Street Theater, understands as a must to be a successful venue in our town.
"We've both been doing plays that have been drawing different kinds of audiences—people who don't necessarily go to theater," said Klein of Sitter's work with Volcanic Theatre and weekly Actors Realm classes. "What he's doing is different than what we're doing. It's going to be a complement."
But the physical location didn't come together overnight. Sitter said he has had the concept for the theater pub rolling around his brain for about 20 years. After the handshake deal to go forward with the pub with business partner and fellow actor Donnie Tompos in September 2011, the two have invested a lot of energy into making their dream a reality.
Searching for the perfect space took time, and was complicated when that space happened to be completely undeveloped and owned by Century Center, the owner of which has had myriad issues over how he may legally use the property.
These have ultimately not affected Sitter and Tompos, who completely transformed the space, building walls, installing windows and doing a paint overhaul.
"It's been a blast actually building it," said Sitter. "I'm just happy that, in February, we finally reached an opening that we thought would be in October."
Coming up at Volcanic Theatre Pub
Sling Blade, City of God and Taxi Driver
After hosting several soft opening events, Volcanic Theatre Pub will hold its official grand opening on Feb. 21. For the next three weeks, the pub will be showing some of Sitter's favorite films, which he says represent the out-of-the-box works the theater aspires to perform.
Sling Blade 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-24
City of God 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28-March 3
Taxi Driver 7:30 p.m. March 8-10
Check volcanictheatrepub.com for additional show times.
AMC's "The Walking Dead"
9 p.m. Sundays
The first live production at Volcanic Theatre Pub will be a revival of this play performed in 2010 by owners Sitter and Tompos. The one act by Edward Albee follows two men with vastly different backgrounds as they connect on a bench in Central Park. Dates not yet announced.
The Dumb Waiter
Sitter plans to put on this 1952 one-act play by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter about two assassins waiting for kill orders. Sitter called Pinter the original Tarantino and compared the play to the "Royale with Cheese" scene in Pulp Fiction.
Dates not yet announced.