Renegade Arts Company branches out after saving Playhouse Theatre props

After stepping up to rescue a valued prop collection left behind when the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company shut down last year, Jim Buckshon is continuing to branch out in the local arts community.

Renegade Arts Company, the nonprofit group he launched to preserve and rent out the assortment of props, is contributing items to a major Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit and co-producing a musical with Pipedream Theatre Project.

Buckshon, who heads Renegade, an offshoot of his Vancouver-based music production company, is thrilled about how the decision to acquire the extensive prop collection is working out.

“It’s really a dream come true. It’s pulling together all the arts,” Buckshon told the Straight. “I don’t know where it’s going to go next but we’re just going to keep rolling with it.”

Renegade Arts Company has been photographing the extensive collection and posting the images online in a catalogue for theatre groups and others looking to rent. Among the thousands of items are chandeliers, arm chairs, statues, a baby carriage, coffins, and IV bags.

For the Vancouver Art Gallery, it was the assortment of luggage that had appeal. As part of the upcoming multimedia exhibit Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, the gallery is looking to borrow suitcases and trunks for a section of the show on travel. Senior curator Bruce Grenville said a gallery staff person pitched the idea of turning to Renegade.

“I had no idea the extent and breadth of their collection,” Grenville told the Straight. “The first thing I saw on their website was this big pile of luggage, so it’s really what we were looking for.”

“We were in a kind of a pinch and I think it’s one of those resources where you think, ‘I had no idea this existed in the community,’” he said.

“Finding lots of luggage is harder than one would hope.”

For Pipedream Theatre Project, the connection with Renegade is about more than just props. Pipedream, a nonprofit theatre group, is preparing to stage Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, a musical about those who have targeted U.S. presidents throughout history.

Director April Green said her group initially approached Renegade about securing rehearsal space, but Buckshon, an avid musical theatre fan, came back with a proposal to team up on the production. Renegade, which is based in a large multi-use facility near East 2nd Avenue and Main Street, is providing rehearsal space and sound support, and of course, the much-needed replica firearms.

“We’ve got complete access to the props department, which they’ve taken over from the Playhouse, which is fantastic, especially when you need a large number of weapons,” Green told the Straight.

“It’s been a really great partnership so far.”

For Buckshon, the partnership is an opportunity to share his passion for musical theatre and gain experience for future collaborations with theatre groups.

Assassins opens on April 3 at Performance Works on Granville Island and the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Grand Hotel exhibit starts on April 13.