The Void's first production Succulents: The Art of Adulting will premiere at Queen Street Playhouse in February | Photo by Taylor Czerwinski

Actors Shannon Vogt and Teresa Elj wanted to create more space for the LGBTQ community in Charleston’s theater scene when they established The Void. 

Prior to starting their new theater company, Vogt and Elj were training and working as actors in Chicago when they lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Both moved to the windy city to study theater, but ultimately planned to return home
to Charleston. 

Before moving to Chicago, the two actors worked in Charleston theaters and music venues — on and off stage. Vogt saw Elj performing at Queen Street Playhouse one night and realized she was the right person to help with her lifelong dream of opening a theater company in Charleston. 

“To my surprise, Teresa was like, ‘Let’s do it!’” Vogt said. “There’s not a lot of space for women on stage, and there’s not a lot of queer representation, or shows that feature queer characters without centering just their trauma. If there’s a gay character, it’s always [about how] they’re struggling with being gay,” Vogt said.

Vogt is thoughtful in the way she frames the mission of The Void. 

“I don’t want it to come off like we’re doing something that isn’t being done,” she said. “We are just trying to make more space for the queer community.”

After deciding to take the leap, Elj and Vogt brought in technical director, AP Hart, and production manager, Brianna Morgan. Vogt said she is grateful to have a team she can trust.

“I know these people have a great grasp on what kind of theater I want to build,” she said.“We rotate how much everyone works artistically on projects, because to create really good, truthful work is exhausting and all encompassing. That’s why it’s so important that we can all sort of rotate. It’s a dance! We all work in different aspects of production.”

The goal from The Void’s infancy was to highlight underserved voices of queer, female and gender nonconforming artists, and the team at The Void reflects this sentiment. 

“Our inaugural show is a really badass team of all women, one trans man and one gender nonconforming individual,” Vogt said. 

The team of four decided to perform a series of three “pop-up plays” for the theater company’s first season. The goal is to acquire a black box space down the road that will enable them to produce a full season and host enriching events for local actors and the arts community at large. 

 This month, The Void held its first open audition at the Charleston Gaillard Center. 

“We were really moved not only by the amount of folks that came out, but how excited they were to be there,” Vogt said. 

“I saw a lot of new faces who told me what this means to them. It felt really good to know that we were making the space for people that don’t really know where to find other queer people, other queer artists, creating a space where those folks can find each other.”

The Void’s first production Succulents: The Art of Adulting will premiere Feb. 3 and run through Feb. 5 at Queen Street Playhouse in its black box theater upstairs, once a rehearsal space.

Written by Leath Roth Barsanti, the show tackles topics like productivity, hustle-culture, addiction, climate change and navigating queer relationships.

Maari Suorsa of local comedy duo Nameless Numberhead came on to direct the show. “Maari is a dear friend. She is so funny with a huge heart,” Vogt said. “She is the perfect person to direct this show. There is comedy built into serious moments, and Maari is really good at finding the truth in comedy.”

The intimate nature of the black box space guarantees that you will be up close and personal from any seat in the house. 

“The goal is to produce living room drama, plays that are really intimate, which works as a tiny nonprofit start up, because most of the spaces we will be renting are really intimate,” she said. “We will have shows where you can literally see the actors sweat — you know, they’re right there in front of you.”

Making space for underserved voices is a mission that goes beyond who is on stage. Vogt is focusing on emerging playwrights, especially those who are from Charleston. 

“I’m really considering how we can use this company for young, emerging artists, playwrights, actors, directors, creatives of all kinds. We want to grow the scene for them and for us.” 

For more information or to buy tickets for Succulents: The Art of Adulting, visit TheVoidTheatre.org



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