Independent theatre collective RUMPUS has been serving up ambitious and diverse performances since its inaugural season commenced in September 2019. Now, with an extended lease at their retro-chic warehouse on Sixth Street, the RUMPUS crew is readying for an adventurous 2020 program full of local talent.
A curated space for raw, untested performance material, RUMPUS is an entirely artist-run venue that seeks to support emerging theatre-makers and actors while challenging audiences and building the capacity of Adelaide’s independent arts scene. Story-telling is as varied as it is surprising, with RUMPUS’ debut show featuring a naked man at a piano.
“RUMPUS is a space to be brave, vulnerable and fun,” says Nescha Jelk, co-facilitator at RUMPUS and part of the three-woman team that founded the indie theatre, alongside Rebecca Mayo and Yasmin Gurreeboo.
“We have grown from humble beginnings, starting with a small grant from the council and renovating the space on a real dime.
“As professional artists, we absolutely love what we do but we also have to work twice as hard to support ourselves with side jobs—grant funding can be very competitive and there’s just not a huge culture of philanthropy in Adelaide.
“That’s one of the reasons we are so proud of what we have been able to achieve here.
“Being in Bowden has been perfect because there’s such a strong sense of community and we get to be close to the city without actually being in the city.
“We’ve also been able to secure a large theatre space that has really lent itself to what we do and our plans for the future,” Nescha says.
The look and feel of the RUMPUS space has been conceived by theatre designer Meg Wilson, who helped source many of the theatre’s retro furnishings from op shops, giving the theatre a vintage, ‘throwback’ vibe and enabling more money to be invested into the artists and programs themselves.
The hard work has paid off.
“We had 26 expressions of interest from artists for the 2019 season, and we’ve since received 49 expressions of interest for our 2020 season,” says Nescha.
“There is definitely a more innovative edge among the artists who have applied for our 2020 season, heralding a new energy which we are excited about.
“We are also mindful of keeping our program fresh and diverse, so our selection panel changes each season to mix things up,” Nescha says.
With the overwhelming influx of new work, the RUMPUS team has set up an official organisational structure and recently became an incorporated non-for-profit.
“Previously we were a ramshackle group of artists, but now we have an official structure and are able to get more done and strategically position RUMPUS to better respond to future growth,” Nescha says.
RUMPUS will soon be adding fundraising music and quiz nights to their regular schedule, and hot desks, offices and rehearsal space for artists will continue to be available at affordable rates.
“Adelaide has world-class artists right here who just need a platform to get their work off the ground,” says Nescha.
“We are committed to providing them with that platform, and supporting them to take risks and deliver professional, independent theatre that provides audiences with an alternative to main-stage performance.”
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