Well. Here we are. It’s June 2014, the sun is shining bright, and we’re still recovering from the Roller Coaster Adventure that was season number four in Duke City Rep Land. I use “Roller Coaster Adventure” in the best way possible. This season challenged us, pushed us out of our comfort zone, brought in some new blood and new audiences, and left us with the sort of tingling excitement that can only mean one thing: We cannot WAIT for next season!
For me personally, this season brought on two particularly challenging positions: The first as an actor, where I was fortunate enough to take on some of the most difficult work I’ve ever encountered on the stage. The second, as the new Director of Media & Marketing (“new” meaning “combined” from other positions, with some created job positions spattered about), where I started to learn and appreciate the amount of work that goes into a position that’s highly influential in getting the word out about your theatre and then getting folks into the theatre.
Whew! I’d be lying (and laughing, hopefully, at this point), if I said that it was easy. This year was difficult, but as I said before, it was difficult in the best way possible.
So, what does that even mean, especially in Duke City Rep Land? Why are we always harping about “challenges” and “difficulties”?
Let me start off by saying that none of these words are BAD. In DCRT, we try to keep everything positive, because it’s within that kind of framework that the best work happens (and we mean this EVERYWHERE—the workplace, home, and your local coffee shop!) So when things are difficult, we embrace it. We welcome it with open arms and say, “Heck yes! Let’s take this on and see what wonderful things we can create out of it.”
A perfect example, of course, was our opening show, Gaslight. This show was a tough one on many levels. But the idea of doing a Victorian Thriller excited us (and brilliant director Amelia Ampuero) because we wanted to push it beyond the story of a woman going insane by her murderous husband. So in came Charles Murdock Lucas, Scenic Designer Extraordinaire, with a set that defied what some might call your Typical Literal Set. Then there was Amelia who, with a fearless attitude and creative knack for thinking outside The Box, elevated the script beyond the text and into a realm of psychological exploration. Along with all of this, we had to shorten our rehearsal process. Typically, DCRT rehearses 80 hours prior to tech, usually working 20 hours a week for four weeks. Due to the addition of three new company members moving into town, we shortened the rehearsal process to three weeks, and rehearsed a mere 56 hours before jumping into tech. It was, along with the play, quite frightening, but liberating all the same.
I should also take this moment to mention those three new company members: Alicia Webb, along with her husband Coleman, and their First Mate Chubbs (a spritely long-haired dachshund) came out to join us as our Resident Stage Manager, and we feel like we gained a gold mine. Alicia’s sharp sense of humor and knack for keeping us in line and on track makes her one of my favorite people, not to mention favorite stage manager. We also welcomed the newly married (but always fabulous) Colonis—Ezra and Katie. While they had worked with us many times before (i.e. Wooden Snowflakes, Oedipus, and Poe), their move to the 505 made it official! They were not only members of the Resident Acting Company, but Ezra took on the role of Production Manager and Katie became our Director of Education and Development. Their enthusiasm, experiences in Virginia and Chicago, and incredible work ethic have helped push Duke City Rep many miles forward throughout the season! They also happen to be some of my favorite people. Well, basically EVERYONE in Duke City Rep is listed on my Favorite Person List. It’s what gets me going every morning!
So, now that our company was growing and we’d tackled our first show of the season, on came the next challenge—working with KIDS, and working with OUR LARGEST CAST TO DATE on The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! This may sound overwhelming, but boy, was it a joy to work with some of Albuquerque’s Finest Young Actors. Even though the experience of our cast ranged from very little to a lot of stage work, they were all students to each other and all teachers to me! And I know that director Katie Becker Colón imparted a mountain of knowledge and experience to these kids, along with memories of fun and laughter. Watching Katie direct our cast and give them the tools and skill set to continue their path as actors after closing was awe-inspiring. I’d like to think that every single person who works with us leaves the stage a better human being (myself included).
While we’re gaining more and more wonderful patrons to our audiences, for those of you who have been with us for a while, I hope you’ve noticed the changes we’ve made with our ticketing system. It will always be a work-in-progress as we want to make it as easy and accommodating as possible for you to see our shows, but I must acknowledge Box Office Manager Janaiah Tanner for her work “behind the curtain” to support our patrons. She has spent countless hours designing, adjusting, and researching Eventbrite in order to make it accessible for you all, and she is committed to making your theatrical experience as easy-going and engaging as possible. Hooray Janaiah!
After the holidays, the entire Resident Acting Company met up with the wonderful Evening Star Barron and amazing newcomer Josh Heard to begin yet another strange rehearsal process for our Winter Classic, John Hardy’s adaption of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show was slated to open in March, but due to Hardy’s schedule, we had to rehearse the majority of the show in January, use February to build the set and meet up once a week to revisit the play, and jump into tech on March 1st in order to open 5 days later. Insane? Not quite. Challenging? You betcha. A Roller Coaster Adventure of Shakespearean Awesomeness? OHHHH YEAHHH!!!
I must now give a big **high five** to Lighting Designer and Technical Director Anna Nichols, who has not only taken on both roles for every show since she joined on a few years ago, but whose work I ALWAYS admire. For this show, in particular, I felt as though her lighting design added an entirely new element to the world which we were building using the framework of Shakespeare’s words and Hardy’s direction. As an actor, working under her design was simply magical.
The other exciting and challenging part of this Midsummer process was our first official TOUR! In the middle of the run, we began to meet up in order to “tourify” the show—in other words, shorten it to 70 minutes and maybe alter some of the content to make it middle school-appropriate. We had the extraordinary opportunity to perform for the members of the VSA, middle school students at North Valley Academy, and patrons of the Albuquerque Country Club. Every performance harbored its own challenges and immeasurable rewards, and we left each space feeling as though we had influenced our audience who, in turn, reciprocated those influences. The mutual exchange of creativity and love was bewildering and lovely.
It was during Midsummer that we also launched the “DCRT Dialogue,” where third party members of the community moderated conversations with our audiences after each show. We were excited to ignite this idea for a number of reasons, including giving all of you an opportunity to chat about what you just experienced with each other! We are grateful for every person who came in to help us out as moderators, and we are continuing to move forward with these post-show discussions in order to make it enjoyable and engaging for our patrons.
Then came These Shining Lives. I had the wonderful opportunity to be able to WATCH a DCRT show for the first time in over a year and half. And it was quite the experience. This cast and crew faced a similar challenge to Gaslight—a shortened rehearsal period, with director John Hardy leaving after tech to head back to Virginia for a previously arranged engagement, along with a special performance at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.
Just to give everyone an idea, here’s how the second weekend of our run went with the special performance:
THURSDAY NIGHT: Performance.
After show, tear down set.
FRIDAY MORNING: Meet Bright and Early (hellooooo coffee!) to load up a truck with set.
Drive to Museum.
Tech show in space.
Go home and shower (we were a little stinky by this point).
Come back fresh and clean, chat with our fantastic audience over food and drinks.
Had touching and enlightening Q&A with audience after show.
SATURDAY MORNING: Meet Bright and Early again (more coffee) to tear down set.
Load truck with set.
Drive back to The Cell.
Go home and shower (stinky again).
Come back for another performance!
It’s here that I must also give a special shout-out to the Nuclear Museum. Not only were they incredibly accommodating, but enthusiastic to share this experience with us. It was pure joy to work with them, and we cannot wait to pursue further special performances in the future!
But I’m not done with this show. Not at all. Because I cannot think of a deeper and more engaging show to end our fourth season than These Shining Lives. As I said before, I not only got to watch and experience this touching, inspiring, and profound production from the audience, but I also got to hear what all of you had to say as you left the theatre. And your remarks, comments, opinions, and overall reactions touched me just as much as the play did.
Why? Because we fulfilled our mission. We served our audience—you all. Your responses to the show were thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, smile-inducing, and I relished each and every conversation with our patrons after every single show. So thank you.
Wow. That was quite the season, wasn’t it?
And now…now what?
Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, while we may rest a little bit after every big project, all of us at DCRT don’t sit still for long. We’re eager with anticipation for the next thing from which we can learn and share something. So here’s what you have to look forward to:
Duke City Rep’s Inaugural Summer Academy
—We’re officially launching our first ever two week education program, led by the Resident Acting Company. In the mornings from 9am-noon, students will learn Life Skills Through Stage Skills through Acting, Improvisation, and Voice and Movement. All classes will take place at North Valley Academy, and if you’d like more information or a registration form, please visit www.dukecityrep.com or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DCRTacademy.
5th Season Announcement Party!
—Can you believe we’ve already been around for almost 5 years!? It seems like we just opened Trust at The Filling Station yesterday. But stay tuned for details on where, when, and how you can be the FIRST to know what exciting productions are in store for the 2014-2015 season!
Best of the City Voting
—We’ve been voted “Best Theatre” in the city for every season we’ve been in existence. And we’re pretty sure part of that reason is because we’re here to serve YOU, our audiences. So be sure to let Albuquerque the Magazine know! You can vote for us for “Best Theatre” and “Best Actor” HERE!
Some recommendations for “Best Actor” include:
Katie Becker Colón
Frank Taylor Green
A moment to acknowledge the people who have helped us along the way, because Duke City Rep would not be what it is without the fabulous support from some fabulous folk:
Rick Galli: He’s the guy that takes all of our PR photos and production photos. Rick makes us look good, and for that, we are eternally grateful. He’s also shot and directed a few of our trailers on YouTube, which puts DCRT out into the electronic world in the coolest way possible!
Scott Milder: He’s another great director of our trailers, not to mention a great supporter, friend, and creative confidant.
Josh Heard: This guy not only did some brave and nervy work in Midsummer, but helped out with build for that show AND These Shining Lives. You rock, Josh!
The Cell Theatre: For giving us a lovely, clean, and creative space in which we can pursue elevated theatrical work!
Our Season Sponsors: Southwest Gynecologic Oncology Associates, Pay Day Inc, Renal Medicine Associates, McDonalds, the Scott Family Foundation, and Sheraton Uptown. Thank you for supporting live theatre in Albuquerque!
And, from Lauren’s File, the entire DCRT Company: Amelia, Frank, Katie, Ezra, Alicia, Anna, Janaiah (and John Hardy too) for being some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever known. I’ve grown immensely as an actor, artist, and person since I started working with all of you.
DID YOU KNOW?!
A few facts you may or may not know about the members of DCRT:
—Duke City Repertory Theatre houses the ONLY Resident Acting Company in all of New Mexico. Rad!
—Artistic Director Amelia Ampuero is freakishly flexible.
—Associate Artistic Director Frank Taylor Green came in runner up for “Best Actor” in Local iQ’s Smart List Poll.
—Two company members (Amelia and Lauren) are Burque natives. But the rest of the company comes from ALL over the nation! Including: Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Washington DC, and Tennessee!
—Ezra and Katie exchanged their wedding vows in the same city they met—Abingdon, Virginia, which houses the Barter Theatre. This is ALSO where Amelia, Frank, and Anna met them a few years ago, and thus the seeds for Duke City Rep were officially planted!
—Box Office Manager Janaiah Tanner recently became an official Broker for One Stop Realty!
—Katie Becker Colón not only recently became an Area Manager for Arbonne International, but Anna Nichols, Janaiah Tanner, and Evening Star Barron are all consultants as well!
—Every single member of Duke City Rep is in love with their dogs. Except Frank, because he’s in love with his cat. And Katie and Ezra, because Katie’s allergic to canines. And Lauren, but it’s only because she plans on owning one very soon…
With that, folks, I hope you enjoyed Lauren’s first ever (but hopefully not the last) blog post for Duke City Rep. If you have an idea for a post that you’d like one of us to write (or if you’d just like to hear from a particular Company Member in general), feel free to let me know!
Adieu, patrons, and see you at the theatre!