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Friday, October 21, 2011

Boxcar Theatre's Co-Founder Steps Down

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 9:30 AM

The Boxcar Theatre cast of Little Shop of Horrors
  • The Boxcar Theatre cast of Little Shop of Horrors

Boxcar Theatre may have faced a heavy blow in June with the premature shutdown of its Little Shop of Horrors production, but co-founders Nick Olivero and Peter Matthews maintain that setback had nothing to do with Matthews' decision to leave the company, which was announced earlier this week.

"There's no relation whatsoever," Olivero said. "The conversation we had was actually put on hold because of the closure of Little Shop, and when we finally got around to talking about it, we had to let stuff settle, to make sure not to cloud that perception that was some sort of rift."

Boxcar is among a handful of local theater companies known for producing either cutting-edge local work or generously reinterpreted existing work. It was the latter that got Boxcar noticed by a licensing agency.

Matthews said he decided to leave before Little Shop was shut down in the middle of its run. In fact Olivero wrote an open letter to the Bay Area theater community describing the difficult position of smaller houses such as Boxcar that want to maintain their edge but are often kept in check by license agreements that allow little room for changing an existing script.

"Nick and I talked about it [the departure] at the time but didn't want to announce right away because I didn't want it to be attached to [the show's closure]," Matthews said. "The whole thing with Little Shop was challenging and unfortunate."

Olivero added that he and Matthews were "completely in solidarity" over Little Shop, and that they went into the project together. Matthews' decision to leave comes more from a professional and personal decision than anything else, he said.

"Running a theater company has been a wonderful experience for me," Matthews said. But he said he's been more interested in the artistic side of production, and after seven years with Boxcar, he felt ready for a change.

"I'm taking a break for a bit as far as theater goes," Matthews said. "I'm going to take some time. Maybe buy a dog."

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Ellen Huet

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