Director Seth Allen, producer Robert Herzog, and The Verona Studio are bent on bringing a theater presence to downtown Salem. Their first show, the ‘black box’ production “Lonesome Hollow” by Lee Blessing will run February 22-23 and March 1-2 at the Capitol City Theatre on the second floor of the Reed Opera House (189 Liberty St. NE).

Black box theater is often used in low-cost experimental theater, and basically means the performance space is bare or has no (or limited) set design, putting all the focus on the actors and dialogue.

Each show is $10 and starts at 10 p.m.. There is limited seating (60 tickets per night), so interested parties should buy tickets in advance.
Allen explained his motivation for the new black box theater project.

“There isn’t any live theater downtown, that’s the whole point of (The Verona Studio),” said Allen. “I also think this show is relevant right now because of the story line.”

“Lonesome Hollow” is set in the not-too-distant future and focuses on a “gulag-like camp” that houses sex offenders. The play features an ensemble cast of veteran local actors, with Michael Swanson as Tuck, Bob Olin as Nye, Ron Fox as Glover, Jillyn Chang as Mills and Pamela Bilderbeck as Pearl.

“The play asks What is art? What is pornography? What is crime? What is punishment? and who decides that,” said Allen Olin, who is an Independence resident and has been involved in mid-valley theater and/or independent film for the past 35 years, believes the play will be accepted by the Salem community.

“There’s (adult) language in it, and some of the content may be a little bit more than what people are used to, but this play is going to make people think,” said Olin. “It’s going to open up a dialogue for the better. It’s not political, its not social, we have taken the material as is, and given the characters life, and made the people as honest and true as we could without putting a spin on it.”

Allen hopes that “Lonesome Hollow” reaches a new group of potential theater fans.

“I’m trying to tap into a demographic that may think they can’t afford theater, or think they are not interested theater,” said Allen.

The director also hopes more plays are on the way, and mentioned interest in Shakespeare tragedies Julius Caesar or King Lear and staged readings by play-writes as possible future projects, but expressed pride in The Verona Studios’ accomplishments thus far.

“The fact that we’ve gone this far with barely a budget, is a success for me,” said Allen.

For tickets visit, and for more info call (805) 657-7538 or E-mail

Lonesome Hollow
Starts Febuary 22,
Capitol City Theatre
Reed Opera House D.T. Salem