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The Imaginists Theater Company - Artful Musings by Maja Wood


 Artful Musings

The Imaginists Theater Company

By Maja Wood

A young couple was sitting at a restaurant taking turns writing on a napkin. When they left, I snagged their table, the only one available, before it was even cleared. Naturally, I couldn’t help myself from reading their notes. I was struck with the playful genius of one of her lines: “You feel I’m wonderful. I feel your nuts.” Her creative turn of phrase made me laugh out loud. But a few seconds later, I had to wonder: Did she mean for it to be funny? Or did she just not know the rules of grammar?

Imaginists TheaterIt’s tough to trust the breakthrough creatives. Are they pushing boundaries and breaking rules? Or are they just clueless? Often, the more creative the artist is, the longer it takes him to gain that kind of trust. It’s taken the Imaginists Theater Company a long, long time.

After all, what kind of serious thespians would team up with migrant day laborers to put on plays? Or, what kind of real actors load all of their props and sets and everything they need onto their bicycles and then ride over to Santa Rosa parks to put on free performances? 

“For a long time, I don’t think people knew what to make of us,” said Brent Lindsay, co-founder of the Imaginists. “They’d see some of the stuff we do and it definitely doesn’t follow the usual mold of what plays are supposed to be like. So, I’m sure a lot of people figured we must be a bunch of free-wheeling amateurs”

But, little by little, someone would see enough of their work to trust, “yes, they actually mean for it to be this way.” And through enough word-of-mouth endorsements, the Imaginists have built a following. Not only do they have a strong support base in San Francisco, but the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded them two grants.

Lately it seems like everyone is talking about the Imaginists. They are not an overnight success.

Lindsay has been involved in theater ever since he got stuck in a drama class at Sebastopol’s Analy High School. He had to sign up for an elective, didn’t get into the cooking class, and had to take drama. One of the assignments was to perform a song from the 50s. Since Lindsay’s dad was a big music fan, this was a meaningful task for him. Once he finished his rendition of “The Wanderers,” the teacher looked over and proclaimed, “Where have you been all my life?”

“Up until then, I had been on the verge of dropping out of school. If ADHD had been a thing back then, I would have been diagnosed and prescribed medication.” But, as it turned out, Lindsay didn’t have a psychological disorder. It’s just that he was an artist.

After graduating high school, Lindsay went on to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. From there he went to New York city to start his acting career. By most definitions, he was a success. But after all the creativity and inspiration he was accustomed to in becoming an actor, actually being a New York actor wasn’t what he had in mind.

“It’s a business,” he said. Lindsay, a handsome, white male, had a marketable look and was given plum roles. “But, what I loved was the creativity of theater. Not the business.”

So he left New York, and with a group of drama friends, moved to an old schoolhouse in Delaware where he started creating his own style of theater. “That’s where I really learned how to tell the stories I want to tell.”

Lindsay and Amy Pinto eventually made their way to Santa Rosa, where they and the rest of the Imaginists continue telling their stories, no holds barred.

The Imaginists summer season is underway. This is the time of year they take to their bikes and ride to parks and perform for free. Although the two productions are made with children in mind, the artistry, technique and boundary-pushing creativity can make grown-ups forget they no longer believe in magic. 

The Art is Medicine Show:
July 2nd - Alicia Park @ 12:30
July 7th - Bayer Farm & Neighborhood Garden @ 12:30
July 9th - South West Community Park @ 12:30
July 21st - MLK Park @ 12:30

Butterfly’s Evil Spell:
June 28th - Juilliard Park @ 4pm
July 5th - Howarth @ 4pm 
July 10th - Bayer Farm & Neighborhood Garden @ 7pm
July 12th - South West Community Park @ 4pm
July 19th - Humboldt Park @ 4pm
July 24th - MLK Park @ 7 pm
July 25th - Finley Park @ 4pm