Stage: Box of Wonder

Insurgo Theater Movement brings sex and drugs to its new space—the rock ’n’ roll is on the way

This is the place where you’ll find sexually frustrated barflies and a down-and-out Las Vegas dad who hits the crack pipe. These characters—and many more of the dramatically dysfunctional—will debut at the Insurgo Theater, a new 3,000-square-foot space (affectionately called “The Bastard”) in Commercial Center.

The humble storefront theater has been built up with each performance. And not just with new walls, lights and seating, says Insurgo Theater Movement leader John Beane.

Insurgo Theater Movement schedule

Feb 11-March 6, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The Sex Comedies
Featuring work by Steven Yockey, Brandon Jones and Dave Surratt. 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. March 19-April 10 (alternating days).

Heavier Than
World premiere of a play by Steven Yockey. March 19-April 10.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
An adaptation of the Shakespearean classic. March 19-April 10 (alternating days).

Insurgo Ensemble Production
Directed by Brandon McClenahan. April 23-May 15.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The gender-bending rock opera by John Cameron Mitchell. April 23-May 15.

“It’s getting filled with love affairs, tragedies and emotion,” says the Eldorado High grad, who looks like a hipster lumberjack with his scruffy beard, worn worker boots and knit beanie. “There’s a box of wonder in this place, and you can come here and get your world rocked.”

This month, the ensemble starts its season of original productions, many written by local playwrights. Rambis, debuting Feb. 12, is set in a budget motel off Boulder Highway. Written and co-directed by local writer-actor Ernie Curcio, it tells the story of a jaded father and his estranged son who reminisce about basketball great Kurt Rambis while planning a move to Mexico. This is complicated by the unexpected arrival of the son’s tweaker girlfriend.

“It’s very much a Vegas story,” Beane says. “It’s not a family story, but it ends up being a story about what unites a family.”

Also debuting Feb. 12 is The Sex Comedies, five new works by local and national playwrights, starting at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The sexual exploration, along with the questions and perversions, is set in a bar, a metaphysical tableau and a seedy hotel room.

The Insurgo Theater (, which opened in December, is one of the few places in Las Vegas you can submit type on paper and see it come alive, with no money down and no producers to impress, Curcio says.

“Here it can go from reading immediately to production,” Curcio says. When not volunteering his time to help renovate the new theater or starring in a production, he’s playing Tony in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding at Planet Hollywood.

Insurgo’s main-stage Shakespearean productions will keep the traditional titles—but not much else. In its adaptation, Macbeth (May 28–June 19) will come out on top. Love’s Labour’s Lost (March 19–April 10) features a debauched Euro rock band in a love snarl with girl punk rockers.

The 36-member ensemble is known for emoting blood, sweat and tears—often on the audience. It traveled for several months before leasing Suite D-114 (hidden in the New Orleans Square building of Commercial Center) at 900 E. Karen Ave. and starting the $5,000 renovation in late October. Some members had never wielded a hammer or saw—unless as a prop.

“It feels great to be in your own space and to have ownership in it,” says Daneal Doerr, the group’s managing director.

Despite the recession, Beane believes this was the right time to expand the theater. “We can allow circumstances and the world to shape us or we can shape them,” he says.

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