At most theater companies, publicizing which actor plays which role in the production is an obvious formality. But for the Anonymous Theatre Company, it is a ritual to be avoided like the plague, as audiences who attend its production of Clue at The Armory this Monday, Aug. 15, will find out.
Founded in 2002 by Darius Pierce, Kerry Ryan, Sam Kusnetz and Rebecca Curtiss, Anonymous is one of the most audacious theater companies in Portland. Uniting for a single production each year, the company conceals the casts of its plays until opening night, allowing playgoers to be surprised each time a new actor stands up in the audience and walks onstage.
But that’s not all. Anonymous hides the cast lists not only from the audience, but from the actors. Each performer secretly auditions and rehearses one-on-one with the director, trusting them to guide them through complicated processes like intimacy coordination and fight choreography before they are thrust into the spotlight with people they’ve never rehearsed with on opening night.
Actors don’t even confess their involvement to their loved ones. One Anonymous actor I spoke to, who appeared in the company’s 2018 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, told me they successfully hid their role from their partner, even when they went to rehearsals. And Triangle Productions visionary Donald Horn told me that he had to pass on a part in an Anonymous show because people would know something was amiss if they saw him at the theater dressed to perform onstage (he’s famous for his casual attire and bare feet).
Tickets for Clue, based on the beloved film adaptation of the classic board game (which flopped upon its release in 1985, only to later emerge as a cult favorite), are available on the Anonymous website. Prices range from $40 (general) to $100 (VIP).