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For the Virgins

Three Bone offers easy access theater

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Sticklers for grammar, you're just going to have to let the name of this local theater company slide. Three Bone Theatre — you're fighting the urge to say Three Bones, too, aren't you — brings The Vagina Monologues back to Upstage this weekend to finish out its second season. In April 2013, this Eve Ensler-penned work was the company's first Charlotte production, selling out the full run of six nights.

Based on interviews with more than 200 women from all backgrounds, The Vagina Monologues offers a look at the female experience "through the vagina lens," says Mara Rosenberg, Three Bone's co-producing artistic director.

"It appeals to Three Bone because it's so many stories," says Becky Schultz, director of business. "It's women that you can relate to. There's going to be at least one story where you'll be like, 'Yeah, that's me.'"

That accessible theater is what the young company is aiming to offer. Founded in late 2012 by Catawba College graduates Robin Tynes and Carmen Bartlett, Three Bone (the name comes from a Reba McIntyre quote about the three bones you need to succeed in life: a wishbone, a back bone and a funny bone) is working to reach new audiences while championing the local community.

Three Bone is small but scrappy. The managing team, comprised of Tynes, Bartlett, Schultz and Rosenberg, consider their company homeless, but call Upstage "their home away from home."

"Because of the space we're in, being at Upstage, we're able to offer shows that benefit from being in a real small setting," says Rosenberg, Three Bone's co-producing artistic director. "There's this big, wide audience out there, and maybe it's people who haven't been to the theater, ever. We thought, let's try bringing them in by finding plays that speak to their current experience. And let's do it in a place that not's threatening. Let's do it in this bar."

In addition to keeping the theater experience low pressure, Three Bone is big on partnering with local organizations. The last time the company did The Vagina Monologues, a portion of the proceeds went to the Safe Alliance Shelter.

"We're not a bunch of friends getting together, putting on a show in a bar," Rosenberg says. "We're not just about doing theater. We're about this community we live in. Our company is about being an integral part of Charlotte. You couldn't pick us up and place us somewhere else."

Schultz says the company's mission is similar to the "shop local" movement: local talent entertaining local audiences in local venues, benefitting the local community.

That initiative even plays out in casting. "We want our shows and cast to be representative of what we're seeing in Charlotte," Schultz says. "Even with a show like Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, [Three Bone's last production] which is traditionally your Southern bells from Tennessee, we wanted a cast that would reflect a wedding party you would actually see in Charlotte."

For Vagina Monologues, half of 2013's cast — which included people who'd acted before and people who hadn't — returns. Callie Bachorski, who was in the show last year, makes her directing debut.

If you're an Upstage virgin, Schultz and Rosenberg suggest tasting The Flood, just one of the specialty cocktails created for this show by owner Michael Ford. "Order before you hear the monologue," Schultz says. "It tastes better before you hear the monologue."

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