‘Ratriotism’ a fun, but crude series of skitsyour


Melissa Puryear

Claire Rock as Black Widow and Jesse Arenas as El Bumblo, struggle for control of the gun, while Alissa Morrow as DJ, looks on in dismay.

Melissa Puryear, Reporter

The Royal Association of Thespians (R.A.T.) performed in Ratriotisim, a mini-series of skits, which one audience member called “raunchy” and “offensive.” These skits are delivered on stage in under two hours. R.A.T. delivers material on current hot topics that can be both laughed at and shunned, depending upon the audience. Saturday night’s performance at The Empty Space on Oak Street, was R.A.T.’s final performance this season. However, in December. R.A.T. will come back to the stage.

The show’s opening began with a couple of verbally graphic song parody’s. To understand the creation process Directors Jesse Arenas, 37, and Matt Fredrickson, 37, discussed what goes into the making of each show.

Arenas and Fredrickson text back and forth every day.

One day it might be a title, the next, a scene and then they build on that; Eventually a story takes form, and once they have something to pitch to the cast of actors, they practice for two weeks prior to performance night.

Josh Hensley, 31, said, “Two weeks before the show goes up we get together, we do a read through, and then we start developing our characters and the scenes, so we only rehearse for two weeks … a regular stage production, a play, will typically be two, three months of rehearsal, so that actors can learn their lines … and get everything right.” However, Hensley said that they work together quickly and efficiently as a team to bring the performance to the stage.

According to Arenas, “Some scenes are what’s going on in the news.” Hensley, elaborates a bit on this point by discussing Sulk, a character who reads poetry in one of the scenes. “Sulk,” Hensley said, “says, ‘sad, sad, is the Florida Keyes…’” This line used for the skit was taken from current content in the media that the audience could sorely relate to. Both Hensley and Arenas admit this line was added at the last minute. Sulk’s words allude to Hurricane Irma’s presence in the Florida Keyes only hours before the production and it hits it’s intended targets, those soft spots in the audience that draws gasps of disbelief, and at the same time this sort of smug satisfaction from other audience members that felt they had this expectation and need to find something shocking and offensive on production night, because that’s what they paid for. It is why “It’s an offensive sketch comedy,” Arenas said.

According to Fredrickson, Hensley and Arenas. “It gets people talking about it and takes away the taboo. We’re doing it to take away that power and get it out there to talk about. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this stuff … There’s a storm destroying people’s lives. You can either laugh about it or keep your mouth shut and hide reality,” said Matt Fredrickson. “One thing I always think when it comes to offensive content, everything’s tragic; that’s why we do what we do, to take the power out of hatred and taboo subjects … Laughter is healing,” Arenas added.

Hensley pointed out one of his favorite scenes from the night’s production that could be considered especially controversial and offensive is in “Life Gives You Lemons.”

He says, “… a devilish character gives bad life advice, such as slapping your wife, flipping off your mother, and encouraging at-home abortions. It’s all in fun and nothing but love.” The scene he is referring to is about a married woman who seeks advice from this devilish character.

She has been cheating on her husband and she fears that when the baby is born he will discover her misdeed because the baby looks nothing like him. She runs to the makeshift store where everyone has heard their problems magically go away. The devilish character is rubbing his hands together after he gives the pregnant woman a bottle of bleach.

He urges her to drink it and reminds her that there is a slight percentage that she could die. However, she could find redemption through the sympathy of her husband and Facebook friends. He consoled her with the idea that one day she will be a mother, just not now. Her baby will go off to live in some puffy clouds. This gives her reassurance and she exits the scene to drink the bottle of bleach.

One audience member was eager to talk about her opinions of Ratriotism and its performances. Lily Bogges, 30 said that she is a regular. She has been attending shows for eight years. She has also performed as an actor at The Empty Space. “I attempt to come to every show at least once. I’m not easily offended. It took them a few years to hit a button … and I was even more hooked,” Bogges said. She “believes in using comedy as a cathartic therapy.”

In reference to offensive content, she said, “It breaks a certain kind of stress that people carry around in this social construct … Right here right now, this tiny little box of space, is ok, you have space here to be ok. I can show up in leather-clad and not worry about it because if there’s any place to be extra ostentatious it’s here, it’s a freedom …” She especially liked the line, “I’ll suck up all their pities and their prayers,” in “Hashtag Mother’s Day Someday,” in reference to the pregnant wife who cheated on her husband. She referred to this particular scene as an example of what she called “raunchy comedy.”

“This is blowing off steam. This is experiencing something that lets you let that stress off your shoulders. It’s good for people,” continued Bogges. For others like Bogges’ husband Wesley, there really wasn’t much that offended him.

He said that he enjoys this comedy and finds it amusing. He has been to four shows. He enjoys the comedy and finds it amusing, that’s because “I have a darker sense of humor than most people,” said Bogges.

The next performance will be in December and is made possible by Empty Space Productions, a non-profit organization, that gives local actors, directors and technicians a place to practice, deliver, and hone their craft. R.A.T. will accept costume and prop donations.

Students wishing to donate can contact R.A.T. on their Facebook page.