Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and John Sloan (for this article’s purpose we will call them the Troika) are a lot more than three actor amigos, who happened to just love the classics. Together, this triumvirate makes up the Artistic Directorship at The Antaeus Company in North Hollywood, one of the most established (and sexy) companies in town.
In the Troika’s three years leading the company, Antaeus has received 15 Ovation nominations & wins, including Best Production of a Play, an LADCC award for Best Revival, and been awarded 29 grants. “I believe our success is partially due to the fact that we have an incredibly dedicated ensemble,” says Sloan, “and we all really appreciate good writing, strong characters, and the communal aspect of live theatre.”
Antaeus’ bench of actors is deep and many are veterans of network television, the silver screen and Broadway. But despite their busy schedules, most members stay very active in making their theatrical sanctuary a priority. “What can I say? We love the classics!”, Nagle says with a bellows laugh. “I just knew when I walked in that this was a group of talented people that wanted to dig in and make theatre come alive.”
That same magnetic energy is what attracted Brochtrup, Sloan and the nearly 150 members. “Our company works a little different than others and our leadership reflects that,” Brochtrup says. “For example, we have been partner casting our shows for a while now. It came out of necessity but since then has evolved into an artistic choice.”
The Troika works essentially as one three-part mind. “We basically talk through every decision, and though we may not agree at first, we usually find a common ground and move forward quickly,” Sloan says. “After the development process with Kenneth’s play, we decided that we needed to produce this play. It seemed like a really good fit for us.”
Kenneth Cavander’s world premiere of The Curse of Oedipus has been floating around the national theatre cosmos for a number of years now. “I first developed this piece as a two-evening play at Williamstown Theatre Festival. We explored all the three generations and told everything you ever want to know about Oedipus,” says Cavander.
Cavander, a Czech immigrant educated in England by way of Los Angeles, has been working in film, television and theatre for decades but The Curse of Oedipus is his Los Angeles theatrical debut. “It’s taken a couple of workshops to get it ready but seeing all of it on it’s feet allowed us to best mold it into one evening,” says Cavander. Today, as a one-evening piece, The Curse of Oedipus steals bits from different versions of the myth. While Cavander stays true to the traditional elements, he has definitely added his own flare to this motherf*cker. “Sure, we have some interesting surprises in this piece but the changes I believe really just make the evening come together and fly,” says Cavander.
After The Curse of Oedipus was workshopped at The Getty Villa last fall, Casey Stangl signed on to helm the world premiere at Antaeus and “she has brilliantly re-imagined the myth for an intimate space which adds a whole other level,” says Brochtrup. “We don’t have much space in here but we use every square inch of it.” The current cast of 44 actors (22 in each cast) is one of the largest ever assembled at The Antaeus Company. “Having so many people in the same room, including the writer which is a real treat for us, is extremely exhilarating. I can’t imagine our company without partnering our actors and all that energy swirling around a production,” says Nagle. “Hey, maybe that’s the key to a hit play? To have more people working on it than we have seats in the house?!”