“We purposefully picked this season to challenge ourselves, to practice bravery and take some risks. I’m eager to see how our audiences will be served by our work!”
– Amelia Ampuero, Artistic Director
Happy September, DCRT fans! The summer has come to an end… which means an epically awesome Fall is just beginning! Our fifth season is underway – platforms are built, fabric is purchased, and rehearsals begin for The Drowning Girls on Labor Day.
I thought this would be an appropriate time to give you, DCRT super friends, a bit of insight into how we select a season. We get questions every year – “Where did you find that play?” “Why did you choose that?” – and now… I’m going to fill your mind with season-selection-wonder with the help of my fellow actresses in the company, Artistic Director Amelia Ampuero and Director of Media & Marketing Lauren Myers.
Our season begins in August, so we start the selection process in the prior December. It all begins with a question:
What will challenge us as a company the MOST? We know that whatever challenges us most will result in brave, nervy, and exciting theatre experiences for our audiences.
And the answers this year:
- A production with more technical elements and what some may label as “spectacle”
- Bringing in new artists (actors, directors, designers)
- Picking productions that seem difficult/impossible for us to produce
With those challenges in mind, we also have a few parameters:
- Our second show of every season is our holiday show. So we are looking for (wait for it…) a holiday show!
- Our third show of every season is our Winter Classic. This can mean many things: inspired by literature or a literary figure, adaptation of a literary work, or classical drama.
- We pay every adult artist – so we must choose plays that require 7 actors or less.
With those ideas under our belt, the hunt begins!!
We spend several months contacting playwrights we know, contacting playwrights we don’t know and asking for perusal scripts, asking mentors and friends for play recommendations, and we all read a TON of plays. We pass around scripts if we think they are big contenders. Month by month, we narrow it down until we select….
THE FINAL FOUR!! *the crowd goes wild!!*
OUR SEASON OPENER – The Drowning Girls
“After a long, hot New Mexico summer I like to open our season with something a little chilling, a little creepy or spooky or thrilling like Gaslight or The Drowning Girls.”
The Drowning Girls was recommended to us by Amelia’s friend, Susan (Thanks Susan!). There is a lot to love about this play – water on stage, dead women in wedding gowns, three actresses playing multiple characters.
In the words of Lauren:
“How will we incorporate water into the show? How can we give these characters full and complex lives while remembering the main circumstance–that they’re all DEAD? Also, I’ve never done a show before with only two other people—my smallest cast to date. There’s nowhere to hide as an actor and that thrills me!”
I’m with Lauren – small cast = nowhere to hide = fantastic, challenging bravery in acting. Given that Lauren and Amelia are two of my favorite actresses on the PLANET, I cannot wait to run into the unknown with them.
photos by Rick Galli
THE HOLIDAY SHOW – All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
Fellow company member (and my husband) Ezra and I saw the World Premiere of Two Front Teeth at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. It is written by our dear friend and huge DCRT supporter from afar, Catherine Bush. The play ends with a Christmas Extravaganza – lights, sound, music, dance, baton twirling, juggling – the WHOLE ENCHILADA. It also includes a couple of skating/hockey sequences on stage.
“For Two Front Teeth, I’m most interested in seeing Frank [Company Member & Director of Two Front Teeth] work in skating and hockey scenes on a black box stage. Because whatever he comes up with, it will certainly verge on crazy and probably slightly delusional (which I LOVE).”
I am jazzed about Two Front Teeth because several of us will be playing seven-year-old children. I don’t know if you hang out with many seven-year-olds, DCRT super friend, but they are exploding with energy and imagination and love of adventure. The challenge and opportunity to bring a seven-year-old to life with nuance and integrity is thrilling.
THE WINTER CLASSIC – Animal Farm
This play struck us like a bolt of lightning. We were at a company meeting, tossing around titles, books we had read in school, and when Animal Farm was mentioned, the entire atmosphere shifted. It became electric with conversation.
As you may know, DCRT super friend, last season we initiated the DCRT Dialogue – a post-show discussion opportunity for audience members to talk about the production immediately following the show. The post-show discussion has become a wonderful barometer for us – what discussion topics arise from a particular script? What will audiences be excited to talk about?
Animal Farm is RIFE with possibility – adaptation of a literary classic, actors playing animals, the comparison between Bolshevik totalitarianism and modern government systems. Victims and victimization. Actors playing animals… did I mention that one already?
On a personal note – I’m directing this one. I know I’m a little biased, but the opportunity to direct a DCRT production (this will be my fourth) is a delightful treat and an artistic wonderland. In my experience, there is nowhere else in the country where actors embrace directors more fully and openly than within the DCRT ranks.
THE SEASON CLOSER – The 39 Steps
This closing slot is our most difficult pick. We like to do a comedy in this slot. But here’s the thing:
Good comedies are hard to find. Small cast comedies are REALLY hard to find.
The 39 Steps has been on our radar for a long time – some of us have seen it at other theatres across the country. Fusion Theatre, our fellow company in residence at The Cell, did a production in 2011.
The 39 Steps took the world by storm in 2005, premiering in England and moving to Broadway in 2008. It is a Monty Python-style treatment of Alfred Hitchcock’s film. And it is a technical explosion. 32 scenes in 25 different locations. Actors playing multiple characters in the same scene. Chase sequences including my favorite, a train sequence that starts inside a train compartment, moves onto the speeding train car, and then inside a tunnel (!) before ending with our main character hanging onto a bridge for dear life. HOW DO WE DO THAT?!? We don’t know yet… but when we do, it’ll be epic and awe-inspiring.
As you can see, we choose our season a little differently than you might expect.
“It is important to us to entertain our audiences with a holiday show and to “lift” literary works into a theatrical plane every year—but what’s MOST important is that we challenge ourselves and our audiences every time we do it, so that, often times, neither party knows what to expect!”
“I am looking forward to every single show we are doing this season! We did an incredible job of selecting shows that push our boundaries as artists and that will translate into theatrical experiences for our audiences that aren’t merely entertaining but thrilling.”
And from me – thank you. It is because of your energy and enthusiasm, DCRT super friend, from near and far, that we are empowered to choose a rockstar season that will challenge us as humans and artists and, in turn, inspire you to continue choosing live theatre and Duke City Rep.
Until next time,
Katie Becker Colón
P.S. Wanna get in on the fun? Come audition for us – Saturday, October 4th at The Cell Theatre. Details coming very soon!