Be Prepared For Rage

Local theatre company putting the steam in Steampunk with a fresh, sexy Dorian Gray

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius”

Oscar Wilde

An apt quote for the Rage of the Stage (ROTS) Players and their upcoming production of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Now entering its thirteenth season, ROTS has been testing the tolerance of the public for years, showcasing the twisted imagination of Resident Playwright/Artistic Director/Co-Executive Producer James Michael Shoberg.

James calls what ROTS does “the corner of fringe theatre…tassel theatre on a dental floss budget.” ROTS is non-profit and completely volunteer run with a very dedicated group of creative types eager to bring movie-style entertainment to the theatre. “We at Rage pride ourselves on making theatre lovers out of average ‘armchair Joes’ who would typically need to be dragged kicking and screaming to a show.”

Laughingly proclaiming Rage his “outlet for evil,” James has put his own not-quite-kid-friendly spin on some classic tales in his original works Dorothy in Oz, Alice’s Adventures in “Wonderland”, and Winnie the Pooh and the Seven Deadly Sins.

James has been working for years to bring his steampunk-style vision of The Picture of Dorian to the stage. The 1891 novel was originally published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine but the debauchery, decadence and allusion to homosexual behaviors sparked moral outrage (as James put it: “We’ve come so far haven’t we?”). Wilde would then edit out a great portion of the unsavory content transforming it into the novel we know today. But his woes would not end there.


Oscar Wilde was taken to court for the crime of gross indecency, found guilty, and was sentenced to two years hard labor. To honor Wilde’s original vision, James has taken both versions of the story and blended them together. “I wanted to retain Wilde’s intent and emotions. This is a story about sin… it can’t be sterile.” And, under his direction…“let’s just say the sin will not be understated.”

Portraying the polyamorous character is local straight actor Vincent Anthony Bombara. “Acting is what I love and what I live for: being different, standing out, breaking free from the normal. It’s something that takes the boundaries of what one’s used to, comfortable with and stretches them. But it’s not about being straight, or gay. It’s acting. It’s fun. I let myself drift away and live in the moment as my character. And with a character as complex as Dorian, there’s no time to hesitate.” Vincent put this motto to work when he went through a fourteen hour photo shoot with a couple of scantily clad male and female models to promote the show. James commends his actor’s professionalism. “It really speaks to acceptance and one of the goals of this show: making sex a ‘non-thing.’”

Assistant director Jen James was able to bring her own special insight to the sexual nature of this project. “I think I bring a female point of view that can speak to the guys. Men and women think very differently about sex but I am able to split my thinking and go both ways (that applies only to my thinking). Sex, and how we think and talk about it, is very different for men and women, whether they are gay or straight. A very important [aspect of] the show is the pointed but balanced approach to sex.”

Rage of the Stage’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, opens October 18 at the South Park Theatre. A Pride Night to benefit the GLCC will be held on Wednesday, October 23.

Roy Gloeckl resides in the southern hills of Pittsburgh, performing communications specialties for a local university. He is a lifelong gaymer who has yet to “catch ‘em all.” He is an actor who wants to be a cartoon. And yeah, he totally has a favorite dinosaur. Follow him on Instagram and tell him yours.