Justice Theatre

Justice Theatre @ the UUFC is a community theatre venture aimed at staging small-scale productions with pay-what-you-will performances supporting social justice causes. Past beneficiaries have included the ACLU, the Corvallis Cold Weather Mens Shelter, CARDV, and the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network. Our mission is to create theatre that fosters discussion about the world around us, to make theatre that is completely open and accessible to audience members of any income level, and to use performance to generate donations for good causes. The company is part of the Fellowship’s larger commitment to justice work under the auspices of the Justice Council. Organized by Religious Exploration Associate Rachel Kohler, Justice Theatre generally stages one adaptation of an out-of-copyright play every year or so with amateur actors who donate their time (which helps to maximize profits for donations!), and these productions are intended to comment on something going wrong in the world while raising money to help right that wrong.

Justice Theatre started in the wake of the 2016 election, when a small group of theatrically minded Fellowship members decided to cope with the political climate by doing what they do best: making theatre about it. In June of 2017, we staged The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar, a short adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Restructuring the script for a smaller cast and a focus on the dangers of political extremism made the 75-minute production particularly resonant in the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency. The one-night performance raised over $800 for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pictured: Hannah Carter as Cassius, Karen Stephenson as Artemidorus, Jessie McCartney as Dardanius, and Brooke Landburg as Cinna

In December of 2018, Justice Theatre returned with a production of a new adaptation of the medieval Second Shepherd’s Play, a delightful show written in rhyme that retells the story of Christ’s birth from the point of view of the bumbling shepherds who watch their flocks by night. The production doubled as a Christmas pageant and a fundraiser for the Corvallis Cold Weather Mens Shelter (now part of the Unity Shelter network). The single-night performance raised over $800 for the shelter.

Pictured: Maxine Agather as Mary, Jeanette Miller Mickenham as Coll 

In February of 2020, we squeaked in one of the last local theatre events before the pandemic hit – Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues as part of V-Day, an annual worldwide event in February during which organizations can stage this play rights-free as long as all proceeds are donated to an appropriate cause. This was Justice Theatre’s biggest-ever production, involving almost 30 cast members and selling out both nights of performances. The play was shown with a companion piece, a short film devised with the local trans community that explored the trans experience with the word and the concept of “vagina,” something not really touched on in Ensler’s play. These performances raised almost $3000, split evenly between two local organizations: the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence and the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network.

After the pandemic hiatus, Justice Theatre returned for an outdoor performance on the UUFC lawn in September of 2021, a full-length adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, a poignant fairy tale of loss and betrayal. This production supported Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and raised almost $1500 to fund efforts to bring COVID vaccines to lower-income nations.

Pictured: Chad Howard as Leontes, Arlee Olson as Paulina, Britt Urey as Antigonus

Justice Theatre’s most recent outing is the March 2023 production of The Blaming of the Shrew, a feminist deconstruction of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew to raise money for Keep Our Clinics, an initiative by the Abortion Care Network that aims to fund small, grassroots reproductive care clinics all over the country, crucial in the aftermath of the destruction of Roe v. Wade. The staging of this adaptation explores the social and dramatic tension of the idea that this story is ostensibly a comedic one, with the hope that the performances would spark conversations about patriarchal control (which is, at its core, what restricting abortion access is all about), as well as the prevalence of misogynistic humor in the stories that our society continues to tell. Ticket pre-sales have already raised over $300, and we hope to bring in $1500+ over the run of the show.

Pictured: Priscilla Galasso as Grumio, John Carone as Polidor, Sarika Rao as Lucentio

In late 2023 or early 2024, Justice Theatre hopes to stage an explicitly trans adaptation of Thomas Middleton’s The Roaring Girl in partnership with local trans theatre artists to raise money to combat the unprecedented assault on trans rights and trans lives. Every year, we want to use art to chip away at injustice, one community theatre show at a time.

If you’d like to learn more about the company or to get involved, please contact Rachel Kohler at reassociate@uucorvallis.org.