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To be a good actor, you must first be an even better fan.

That's the philosophy of David Fetzer, who could brag about how he scored his first professional theater role at age 13, or his days at Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy.

At the age of 28, he's already garnered attention on local professional stages. His turn as a spaz-prone marine biologist in Salt Lake Acting Company's production of "boom" dazzled audiences in November. Ditto his portrayal of Everett Ruess two years ago in Plan-B Theatre's "The End of the Horizon."

Rather than his acting résumé, though, Fetzer would prefer to wax rhapsodic about national and international productions that honed his belief in theater's potential. Foremost was a London production of Emma Rice's "Tristan & Yseult."

"It was the first time I appreciated theater as an audience member, not just an actor," Fetzer said. "It showed me outright, in the course of two hours, that theater can be life-changing."

Life-changing enough for Fetzer to take out a $5,500 loan and gather local talent to launch New Works Theatre Machine. "Go to Hell," his company's inaugural production in December, went straight for the jugular of his proclaimed demographic, the 18-35 set more accustomed to playing a video game before going to the movies.

Blending the "Hellraiser" horror-film franchise with the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the play fired the imaginations of those fortunate enough to catch its first week of shows, before it caught the attention of local fire marshal inspectors. They alleged the building wasn't up to proper code for use as a theater.

With performances shut down at west downtown's Utah Pickle Factory, Fetzer got another lesson in Murphy's Law, but isn't planning to give up. "Even if we have to get shut down again in a brand new unconventional space, we'll keep going," he said. "But I really want New Works Theatre Machine to be part of the up-and-coming development of this part of town."

Fetzer hopes to receive a city building report soon, so he can make adjustments in time for his next production, an original script he wrote titled "Hello My Name Is ... "

Even if New Works' difficult birthing pains drag on, Fetzer plans to keep building his company and working to attract younger audiences to see live stage shows. "Good acting and good theater is always something of a scramble," he said. "We'll figure it out."

David Fetzer, 28, Salt Lake City, is the founding director of the New Works Theatre Machine. —

Can live theater change your life?

That's the mission of David Fetzer's new theater company, The New Works Theatre Machine.

Where • The Utah Pickle Factory, 741 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City

Info • Call 801-916-1308, or visit

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