IT ALL STARTED WITH TERRY OLSON AND THE ORLANDO FRINGE
I loved SAK Comedy Lab. I loved everyone at SAK, too. I started out as a volunteer. Then I became a house manager and even helped some with marketing. Then Terry Olson, Andy Anthony and Rick Kunst started the Orlando Fringe because SAK had performed at some of the Canadian Fringe Festivals and there wasn't one in the US yet. When Terry asked me if I wanted to help with the Fringe I had no idea it was the beginning of what would be a lifelong passion and career. For the first 10 years of the Orlando Fringe I trained volunteers, sold advance tickets, worked at the venues, worked in the cash office and became the cash office manager. During that time Fringe was located downtown and the theatre spaces were created out of empty store fronts. It was at Fringe where I developed my love for small, intimate, bare bones theatre spaces. From working in the cash office I got to know many of the performers and developed my love for actors and playwrights and for new, original works.
PERFORMANCE SPACE ORLANDO
In 1998 I was looking for a space to put a hair salon in. I ended up finding a space on Mills Ave that was bigger than I wanted but I had this wild idea. What if I opened a theatre space and put the hair salon in the back? That is exactly what I did when I opened Performance Space Orlando. PSO, as it came to be known, was a versatile space available for rent to anyone for anything. It housed plays, improv and sketch comedy, art shows, classes, workshops, rehearsal space.... and I did hair in the back at Neon Salon. Unfortunately, I closed the the space in 2000 after a dispute with my landlords over the lack of air conditioning at the space.
After closing PSO and NEON SALON I ended up in Denver, Colorado. My ex-husband had moved there and my daughter was not happy with mommy and daddy in separate states. I went to visit Denver over Christmas in 2000 and discovered there was not as much snow as I thought there would be and what a huge theatre scene they had. I moved there in June 2001 hoping to produce a Fringe Festival in Denver. I never did get the Denver Fringe off the ground but I planted the seeds and there is a Boulder Fringe. In 2002 I formed the Sick, Twisted & Wrong Comedy Troupe and started producing comedy shows. In 2004 I started renting venues and producing plays. I discovered that moving from venue to venue makes it very difficult to build an audience or get media attention. In March of 2006 I had the opportunity to take over a private social club from a friend. I only did so because I knew I could also produce theatre in the same space.
DENVER'S DANGEROUS THEATRE
I ended up running the social club until I knew the landlord would give me my own lease. Once that was confirmed I opened Denver's Dangerous Theatre in August 2007. The focus of Dangerous Theatre has always been to produce new works, unpublished works, works that might otherwise not be staged. I like working directly with the playwrights. I started of primarily directing. But now I find myself on stage as much as off. I can do that because I own the theatre. Between 2007 and 2015, at Denver's Dangerous Theatre, I produced over 25 productions, directed most of them, acted in some of them and wrote a few of them. Ultimately, theatre is a very selfish endeavour for me. I am NOT a non-profit. I do NOT have a board. I'm too bossy a bitch for a board. I like the freedom to produce whatever interests me without having to keep within the confines of a specific mission statement or audience demographic.
WHY OPEN A LOCATION IN FLORIDA?
That is a good question. In 2013, I took a look at my life in Denver and came to a few conclusions. The main one being that while there is less snow than New York, there is still snow. The mountains in Denver are beautiful to be able to look at daily but I don't ski. Snow is still not my friend. The older I get the more I want to be near a beach. Another reason, I have family in Florida I like to be near to. So in 2013 I started making plans to return to Florida and entered the lottery for the 2014 Orlando Fringe. I figured I needed to start making theatre contacts. I ended up producing shows in the Orlando Fringe in 2014 and 2015. I then moved back to Orlando from Denver in August 2015. I started looking for space for my new theatre and thought I found one. It fell through. Before I could start looking for another space, my mother passed away in February 2016. Everything kind of came to a screeching halt for the rest of the year to deal with that.
At the end of 2016 I found myself in Sanford, Florida. Historic Downtown Sanford is nothing short of magical. I found a space in building originally built to be a theatre and am so thrilled to make it a theatre once again. I have built *2* theatre spaces into the venue. One is a more traditional proscenium space and the other a cabaret style black box. I am conveniently located close to Orlando AND the beach! i could not have asked for a better location.
WHY "DANGEROUS" THEATRE?
Because it is a dangerous proposition to make a living in theatre. That is the short answer.
The long answer is that Dangerous Theatre is not like any other small theatre venues out there. Why? For starters the theatre is owned and operated by a single person. Me. Winnie Wenglewick. Yes, I'm aware that my name sounds like a Disney character, which is only fitting considering I got my start in theatre in Orlando, Florida.
I moved to Orlando, FL in 1990 from upstate NY because snow is not my friend. Soon after my arrival, my roommate won tickets to an improv show at SAK Comedy Lab. The show was so much fun I ended up volunteering there. Then, the owners of SAK started the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival in 1991. The Orlando Fringe is now the oldest running Fringe in the US. This is all Terry Olson's fault.