The behind-scenes-blog of Bare Theatre and its affiliates.

Looking back on 2012.

2012 was a challenging year in many ways for a lot of people.  The economy was still a bit shaky and we all endured a grueling election cycle.  There were challenges for us in Bare Theatre – the most notable being the unfortunate closure of Raleigh Ensemble Players, which had seemed to be the perfect new home for us in Raleigh after Much Ado About Nothing.

It’s always interesting to me to look back at what we’ve done and where we’ve been.  2012 brought a lot of firsts for us, and it saw our “little company that could” transitioning into a more established company here in Raleigh and in the Triangle as a whole.

Here’s a brief look back:

February.  Winter One-Acts: One Night of Absolute Dismay

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Jeff Buckner as Lawrence and Joanna Herath as Amanda in “For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls.” Photo by Jason Bailey.

February held our third collection of one-acts, a mix of short plays from playwrights new and well-established.  We presented new works by Lucius Robinson, Rajeev Rajendran, Ben Ferber, Donnie McEwan, and Mora Harris, as well as a favorite by Christopher Durang.

We premiered three installments of “Hot Greek Porn,” a mashup of Greek tragedy, the European debt crisis, and well…porn.  We bloodied the stage with “Everything Seems So Plausible at 1 A.M.,” and explored a couple’s faith being tested by a homeless person.  The show wrapped up with “For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls,” a twisted retelling of Tennessee Williams’ classic, The Glass Menagerie.

Notable firsts included Jason Bailey’s first time directing on stage and Olivia Griego’s first time directing with Bare!

May.  We had so much fun with “For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls” in Absolute Dismay that we decided to mount the entire collection from which it came, Durang/Durang.  That show, originally scheduled for May, had to be postponed because of the closure of REP.

We had already rehearsed well over a month by the time we got the sad news, so rather than cancel the show entirely we moved it to July, thus canceling our summer youth conservatory, Rogue Company.

June.  Let Them Be Heard

Justin Smith as Dave Lawson and Phillip B. Smith as Reverend Squire Dowd in Let Them Be Heard

Justin Smith as Dave Lawson and Phillip B. Smith as Reverend Squire Dowd in Let Them Be Heard.  Photo by Jason Bailey.

Our first location-based production, Let Them Be Heard, took place at Historic Stagville in Durham, NC.  The seven monologues taken from the Slave Narrative Project were staged in actual slave quarters and a hand-built mule barn at the site.

Let Them Be Heard was a powerful experience for us.  The fact that the narratives came from men and women who lived in Raleigh and Durham and grew up as slaves made already compelling stories even more meaningful.

Among many firsts with this show was our first Kickstarter campaign, which successfully raised over $1,250 to cover the costs of the production.  This in turn helped us donate 100% of ticket sales – over $1,800 – to Historic Stagville to support their mission of historic preservation.

It was also our first appearance on WUNC 91.5 FM’s The State of Things with Frank Stasio.  It was also our first (of hopefully many more) production that was audio recorded and broadcast with the help of Kurt Benrud and Triangle Radio Reading Service.

Additionally, the sold-out show was recognized by Byron Woods and The Independent Weekly as among the best of 2012’s Triangle Theater, receiving recognition for best achievements in ensemble, directing, production, and a special achievement in the humanities.

July.  Durang/Durang

Durang-Stye5family

Clockwise from left: Jason Bailey as Wesley, PJ Maske as Mae, Richard Butner as Jake, G. Todd Buker as Beth, Lucinda Gainey as Dr. Martina, Hilary Edwards as Meg, and Julie Oliver as Ma in “A Stye of the Eye.”  Photo by Andrew Martin.

July saw Durang/Durang finally get its run (with a few new cast members), and it was a blast.  Olivia was a fantastic director, and we even got her husband Drew onstage with us!

Not only did this show have the honor of being our first-ever production at Burning Coal’s Murphey School, it was also the second-highest grossing show in Bare Theatre history (after our 2011 run of Much Ado About Nothing).

September.  SPARKcon 2012

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Cassandra Wladyslava, Matthew Hager, Patrick Cox, Matt Fields, and G. Todd Buker making friends at SPARKcon. Photo by Patrick Campbell.

SPARKcon 2012 was Bare’s second appearance at the huge four-day creative explosion in downtown Raleigh.  TheatreSPARK wanted to go bigger and better, so local theatre companies took to the streets with an interactive scavenger hunt.  With our upcoming clown-centric show, The Leader, rapidly approaching it was time to send in the clowns.

October/November.  The Leader

Matt Fields, Jeff Buckner and Matthew Hager in "Excuse Me, pt. 2"

Matt Fields, Jeff Buckner and Matthew Hager in “Excuse Me, pt. 2.” Photo by G. Todd Buker.

The Leader involved several firsts.  Using Eugene Ionesco’s short 1953 play by the same name as a jumping-off point, we explored a creative process unlike our typical process.  The devised short plays and sketches that filled out the show were created by the ensemble, with several pieces written by Chuck Keith, and Todd Buker.

Our pals, The Nickel Shakespeare Girls, came to participate in our clown workshops, and we took what we learned out onto the streets of downtown Raleigh to field test it.  The Leader was our first production in an art gallery, too – at the wonderful Visual Art Exchange.  We also got to visit Frank Stasio at The State of Things again to talk a little about political theatre!

What a year.  There were so many unforgettable moments on stage and back stage.  We had the pleasure of working with a ton of great new actors, and trying new things with old friends.

Here’s to 2013, which we’ll discuss more on the next post!  Wait ’til you hear what’s in store!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

– GTB

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