Arts and Entertainment
Published: September 22, 2010
Annex Theater, annextheater.x10hosting.com
Evan Moritz is always up for a theatrical challenge. He co-wrote, -directed, and -toured a four-person dramatization of the Beowulf epic and created a large-scale, stage version of the 1973 animated Fantastic Planet, Moritz bolstering local DIY theater’s ambition. This year alone, Moritz—who previously preferred acting—has directed, collaboratively and solo, five major productions at multiple venues around the city.
Moritz was one of the founding members of Annex Theatre, which started in January 2008. Since its inception he has passionately helped organize the loosely structured production company into an accomplished nonprofit venture, actively expanding both its audience and its collaborative talent pool. Working with the Transmodern Festival, Exotic Hypnotic, and Whartscape, as well as touring productions in other cities, Moritz has helped bring Annex’s DIY craft to the forefront of the local arts community. With an earnestness and enthusiasm that brings out the best in both his colleagues and his audiences, Annex took on not only a wide-reaching program, but also a community focus.
While working as an after-school theater instructor at South Baltimore’s Baybrook Elementary and Middle School, Moritz met 14-year-old student and playwright Derek Carr. Carr passed Moritz The Dark World’s Destruction, a script he had written at 12, and started attending Annex’s local productions. Moritz, along with Annex member Rick Gerriets, received a Kresge Foundation grant this year, which the company used to help Carr bring his script to the stage. Annex members held workshops in their neighboring community offering local children the opportunity to get involved in costuming, set building, and other aspects of production. Through this outreach and encouragement, Annex’s immediate neighbors have embraced the group’s presence and are regular attendees at its performances and events.
Moritz, who sits on the nonprofit theater company’s board, recently completed a Western play and is organizing a DIY performance festival in Baltimore, which will bring similarly minded groups from Philadelphia, Providence, and Minneapolis to the city. Moritz also plans to pursue more serious theater pieces, such as Matsukaze, a contemporary take on Japanese Noh theater that he co-directed with Walker Teret and Justin Durel at the LOF/t in December 2009. The story of two Japanese sisters who pine for a deceased lover was a notable break from the typically comic productions mounted by local DIY groups. It’s a dramatic ambition that Moritz would like to see more of in the future—an abandonment of sarcasm, irony, and tongue-in-cheek humor in search of something more fulfilling.