We did it! We are so overwhelmed by the response!!
There were a few things on my mind when I decided to produce Fool for Love on my own. One was wanting to produce this play, specifically, not only because of the role within it, but because of its themes. The play centers around the idea of toxic masculinity, a hot button topic these days. Also, how a cycle of emotional abuse effects generation after generation. I have a passion for mental health and psychology as well as sex positivity. This seemed like a perfect play to explore all three.
I’m acutely aware that mental health is not discussed nearly enough, and rarely in constructive ways. Some of the themes in this suckerpunch of a play speak directly to that need for communication and support, simply by presenting the behaviors for people to identify in our modern day. I wanted to examine this darkly funny, torrid, fan-favorite play in a different light; a production shaped by experiences I had had personally.
Also, sexual desire, despite all complications, is right in the foreground of this play. It shows how powerful sexual attraction can be, and how our brain chemistry can be shaped by exterior forces and influenced at times by our own wills. The topic of sex is both fascinating and thrilling and made the show tantalizing but ultimately more disturbing, which is what I love about it. Although it barely scratches the surface of the topic as a whole for all audiences, it was important to the themes of traditional gendered expectations, and why they crumble.
I knew that this was smart choice to start a company with, because of the small cast, simple set (which we could make as detailed as we were able), but also because of the different demographics it was sure to bring in. We brought in an even measure of women to men, which is unusual as women overwhelmingly buy tickets to theater over men. As well, as bring a play to the area that hadn’t been done, nor would be done, in a long time. It would make our production stand out, be gutsy and surprising. Also, Sam Shepard’s writing is solid. His themes are singular, but his words are blunt and beautiful at the same time. This play unwinds beautifully, and keeps the audience tense till the end. We knew we could reach people with this play. All I needed were strong performers and professional crew.
The key to all this was finding like minded people who were also passionate about this play. Which is the only way to do any project, really. But people who really wanted to be there. Through luck and networking I found so many people who had always wanted to do this play, or were up for the challenge.
I set small goals for the production to make sure we could meet them and sustain us forward. These goals all feed in to my larger goals for the community at large, and want to start having more conversations about. I have to start somewhere, so I started where I believed I should:
1.) Pay everyone. Minus a few volunteers who generously came into help build and help clean up, who were compensated with hugs, food and beer, everyone who worked on Fool for Love more than two non-consecutive days, was compensated with an agreed upon amount at the end of the show.
2.) Create a comprehensive and gorgeous media/promotional plan for the show. Executed with the help of partners reDirect Media Group and Nieto Photography, I was able to create a beautiful visual language that actually helped the look of the play evolve too.
3.) Engage a new audience rather than mine the community continuously. Of course I wanted my peers to see and love my work, but I limited my posting and targeting of theater saturated audiences and tried to reach out to areas I didn’t have a network, or that didn’t commonly come see shows. What we got was a mix of people I knew from outside theater all over the country supporting us, people who hadn’t seen this play in 20 years and wanted to see it again. Sam Shepard fans who approved of our quality level, and people who rarely take a chance on new companies. We have only just broken the ice on this experiment and hope to grow the audience we discovered through technology and accessibility.
4.) Be as accessible as possible. A few attempts to be truly accessible didn’t make the cut as the rights to really reach people who can’t make it to the theater were not available. That didn’t stop us from bringing Arts Access in right away, and trying to engage audiences that didn’t usually experience theater bc of limitations of the experience. Future plans include: shuttles, ride-share, event nights, sign language, closed captions options and of course another attempt to livestream a performance.
5.) Promote diversity on stage and behind. A long term goal of mine is to make opportunities for types of people less seen on stage. This is a must for any project I lead and it began with my first directing project, The How and the Why by Sarah Treem. I wanted to see that powerful script played by two powerful black women and so I did just that. I was thrilled with the results, and a still so proud of that production.
As for gender: Fool for Love had equal amounts of men and women on cast and crew combined. More women working the tech side: Set design and building, lighting, painting, props, costumes, Assistant Stage Management and fight choreography. For a show mainly about masculine themes, it was presented by and equal amount of women, and I believe that helped us tell the story I set about wanting to tell. A tragic story with heart, not just a twisted, dark moment, but something that maybe we can grow from. Something with real emotion and hope.
My favorite part of this whole experience was seeing my cast and crew enjoy it. We had to overcome a few late stage hurdles, but they couldn’t stop us from making and enjoying a three week run of wonderful, excited audiences and thrilling and funny, rollercoaster shows.
I am excited about where we’re heading next and looking for interested companies and investors to partner with for this one. It’s gonna be wild.
See you again soon, Triangle.