‘In a Forest, Dark and Deep’ opens Aug. 28
Sometimes, a name is just a name. Not this time, though. None Too Fragile Theater’s brand of storytelling is powerful and character-driven with the intention of challenging its audiences to examine their principles and points-of-view. The group, according to its website, “… tells kick-ass stories worth every bit of whatever you choose to pay.”
Its co-artistic directors, husband and wife team Sean Derry and Alanna Romansky, Derry’s daughter Ireland, and I met on a sunny Saturday afternoon to talk about the theater company’s history, its upcoming season, and plans for the future.
The first things to note about Derry and Romansky are their intensity and passion for their work and family, which, along with their unarguable good looks, are definitely none too fragile. The “kick-ass” description matches both the theater and its creators.
We began by talking about the company’s history. Derry was the cofounder of The Bang and The Clatter Theatre, where he worked with Romansky until 2009. In 2010, the two started None Too Fragile. After producing two plays at their Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls location, the couple shuttered the theater in order to pursue work together, first in Pittsburgh, then Los Angeles.
Reforming the group, finding Pub Bricco
In 2012, Jaysen Mercer contacted them about re-forming None Too Fragile. Persuaded by Mercer’s commitment and his business expertise, None Too Fragile was recreated with Derry and Romansky as co-founders and co-artistic directors and Mercer serving as co-founder and managing director.
None Too Fragile was back in business, but it needed a home. Enter Pub Bricco in the Merriman Valley, at 1841 Merriman Road. There was a space attached to Pub Bricco, but it was separated by a wall. The folks at Bricco were soon convinced that the restaurant and the theater company would make good neighbors. Derry says of Pub Bricco’s support, “Working with them has been really great from the beginning. I can’t imagine it any other way.”
With a little bit of vision and a whole lot of hard work, Derry and Romansky built the space themselves to match their ambitious vision. The theater is attached to the restaurant, and patrons pass through the dining room to enter. Pub Bricco’s drink menu is available to None Too Fragile’s guests.
While Derry and Romansky both have “day jobs,” they consider None Too Fragile to be their true career. They are committed to making quality, bold, relevant theater and to paying the artists who are part of None Too Fragile productions. They are also committed to offering their shows to the public on a “pay as you can” basis so that no one will be kept from experiencing the arts due to inability to pay.
In order to continue to operate by those guiding principles without burdening their family with too much financial risk, in 2014 None Too Fragile made the decision to apply for nonprofit status. Derry, Romansky and Mercer, with the help of an outside service, submitted their application in late 2014. About six months later, they received the news that they had been approved as a 501(c)3 organization. Nonprofit status opens up new funding options for the theater, and patron donations are now tax-deductible.
Another valuable resource at None Too Fragile is Derry’s 13-year-old daughter, Ireland, who has a theater resume both on and off stage that most seasoned theater veterans would envy. “I like acting best, but I want to know as much as I can about every part of the theater,” she shares, acknowledging her love for the stage.
There are a number of exciting things on the horizon for None Too Fragile, starting with their production of Neil LeBute’s “In a Forest, Dark and Deep,” a suspenseful story of sibling rivalry, which opens Aug. 28. Tickets are $20 each, and are, of course, pay as you can. To order tickets or for more information, go to http://www.nonetoofragile.com/index.html.