Thespian crusade

Knights of Indulgence Theatre United States crossed the country for a dream

The remaining members of K.I.T.U.S. have been together for 15 years, when they met at an art school in Delaware.

The remaining members of K.I.T.U.S. have been together for 15 years, when they met at an art school in Delaware.

If you died tomorrow, would you die happy?

This is the “morning mantra” Brent Lindsay asks himself before he starts each new day. This may also be the attitude toward living that convinced not one or two, but nine of Lindsay’s closest friends and colleagues to follow him across the country in pursuit of a dream. That dream is beginning to materialize with Knights of Indulgence Theater United States, also known as K.I.T.U.S.

Although K.I.T.U.S. wouldn’t officially bloom until 1993, the roots of the theater troupe were planted in 1986, when Lindsay and the others met at an art school in Delaware. The group’s early shows were “elaborate productions in the back yard” in “chicken-farming country,” he says, but word of mouth spread fast. Fans would drive hours from as far as Washington, D.C., to see them, and K.I.T.U.S. developed a small, but fiercely loyal following.

But after an East Coast tour, when audience numbers varied dramatically depending on whether the group knew people in town, Lindsay decided K.I.T.U.S. needed a new home base. He had a sister living in Truckee, and the cross-country move would bring him closer to his childhood home in Sonoma County, Calif.

The trick was convincing the other members of K.I.T.U.S. to go with him.

“I sort of conned everyone to come with me,” Lindsay jokes. “It takes a big commitment from the others in the group.”

The magnitude of the western trek was obviously difficult for some; out of the nine people who headed west with Lindsay in 1997, only four remain: Amy Pinto, Beth Lorio, Stephen Patterson and Andrew Thornton. And there’s no guarantee the current K.I.T.U.S. troupe won’t move again.

“Whether or not we stay here is up in the air,” Lindsay says. “If we got a [performing] space, I think we would stay here a lot longer … If we had money, we could do it.”

Without the start-up capital for their own theater, the members of K.I.T.U.S. depend on the kindness of their peers. The group’s current production, an original piece by Lindsay titled L’Ecole de Malatete (The School of Headaches), will be performed in Reno at Brüka Theatre. The play, a tribute to Moliere that pokes fun at sexuality and society, should fit well under Brüka’s eclectic roof.

"[K.I.T.U.S. and Brüka] coincidentally started the same year,” Lindsay says. “We had the same … how do I put this … reservations about becoming inclusive with other companies. We could never find a theater company to do it with.”

But in Brüka, K.I.T.U.S. found a comfortable partnership.

“We can include each other,” Lindsay says. “They’re amazing. They have strong points we don’t, and vice versa.”

One might ask why K.I.T.U.S. didn’t settle in Reno in the first place, given the larger population and the flourishing theater scene.

“Reno’s still a pretty new move,” Lindsay says. “But it’s very promising, and the audiences are great. … The big city stuff scared us a little.”

Lindsay says that when the group first started, “everything was a group process.” They would spend hours, even days, arguing points, and “meetings would stretch into weeks.” Now, they’ve all begun to find their voices and are writing individually, he says, but the final product is still very much a group effort.

For K.I.T.U.S., that 15-year group effort is something they can be proud of.

“It’s a big reminder to ourselves, and perhaps to young artists, or even the world at large, that Broadway and Hollywood have enough people running that machine," Lindsay says. "It’s about time that some of us run our own."