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

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Tent.

We are constantly looking for and inviting people to join the ride that is Bare Theatre.

It’s been quite a ride.  In the last seven years, we’ve performed 15 of Shakespeare’s plays, four collections of one-acts, and 2 SPARKcons.  We’ve performed in at least eight different venues around the Triangle, in Durham, Raleigh, Cary and Holly Springs.  We’ve performed outdoors, in an art gallery, and in an original slave quarters cabin.  There has been a lot of stage blood and no less than two inflatable, um…creatures.

This past year, we took a break from Shakespeare, which we used to perform almost exclusively.  I think this was necessary – it was time to get out of what was becoming a comfort zone.  That’s not to say we had mastered his work by any means, but we were getting very familiar with it and in such cases it can be easy to form habits.

We embarked on a series of projects that took us from Christopher Durang to Eugene Ionesco, from “Hot Greek Porn” to “Hitler Youth Knife.” We also delved into the Works Progress Administration’s Slave Narrative Project with Let Them Be Heard – a project for that appears to just now be beginning (more on that to come)!

These have been incredible experiences that had us exploring clowning in the streets of downtown Raleigh and digging down deep into the roots of racism in America.  I know I personally have learned a lot about theatre, and audiences, and about putting on a show in general.

This year, we want to go big.

For our return to the works of Master Shakespeare, we will be performing two comedies that Bare Theatre has not done before.  The first – coming this May – is The Comedy of Errors, an early screwball comedy of mistaken identities.  The second – slated for September – will be As You Like It, an epic love romp through the forest of Arden.

For these two shows, we knew we wanted to experiment with a different venue and we wanted somewhere in Raleigh, where most of us live.  We had an incredible time doing The Winter’s Tale at Sertoma Amphitheater in Bond Park a few years back, and it seemed like booking shows in Spring and Fall would be great times for outdoor theatre.

And we’ve wanted to perform at Raleigh Little Theatre’s Stephenson Amphitheatre for a while, too – ever since a group of folks who would later form much of the core of Bare Theatre performed As You Like It on that very stage in 2005.

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“As You Like It” on the Stephenson Amphitheatre stage in 2005. Bare Theatre would begin producing full seasons with many of these folks months later.

This is a big venue.  Research tells us this place holds somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 audience members – a far cry from the intimate black box of Common Ground Theatre, a space we love and call home.  The stone walls and raked wooden stage are perfect for Shakespeare but the question becomes, how do we fill it?

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Louise “Scottie” Stephenson Amphitheatre at Raleigh Little Theatre. Photo from http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org

Collaboration is the answer we came up with.  Many months ago I conceived Errors as a circus show, but I knew that to really pull it off we would need actual jugglers, hoop dancers, acrobats, and the like.  Luckily, sharing the streets of SPARKcon with circus artists has introduced us to the amazing talent involved with Cirque de Vol Studios.  Enter Sara Phoenix and the crew at Cirque de Vol.

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Aerial silks at Cirque de Vol Studios. Photo by Cirque de Vol Studios

How to fill a huge stage?  Take an already big cast and add circus.  We’re now exploring having a silk aerial rig onstage, as well as lyra and possibly a slack rope.  Throw in a few fireballs.  Make the city of Ephesus, the sole location of Errors, a circus town with a marketplace filled with tricks, stunts and artistry.

This is an ambitious project.  Certainly it’s the biggest show I’ve ever attempted.  I already need to thank Sara and Cirque de Vol as well as Charles Phaneuf and Raleigh Little Theatre.  Without their help this wouldn’t be happening.

It is happening, and it’s going to be one crazy show.  Stay tuned!

– GTB

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