That’s a question I’ve heard a lot lately.
For the answer, we’ll need to go all the way back to early 2011 while I was serving my AmeriCorps term as the Technical Director for the Prescott Center for the Arts. We were in one of our monthly meetings and discussing how all of the AmeriCorps/VISTA sites in the Prescott area could work together to form interesting and unique partnerships. I admit that working at a community theatre, I felt like the odd man out – as our season was set by independent committees, our organizational structure was different from that of the other non-profits that were service sites, the types of partnerships we could form wouldn’t be the traditional sort…you know, the usual laundry list of excuses we all can make sometimes. But then I thought, “Well, jeez, we’re a community theatre, shouldn’t we be putting the community in there somewhere?”
Then it hit me. I thought, “Man, I bet there are some awesome things in thrift stores around here that you could use as props in theatre.” And the lightbulb went off: grab a bunch of items from a thrift store, hand them out to some playwrights, and see what wackiness was returned.
I immediately turned to one of my AmeriCorps buddies and whispered the idea – and by the end of the meeting, he had an idea for a play with a jacket on a coat rack that gets passed along through several different people. And I knew then that somehow, someway, somewhere what was to become thrifTheatre was a go.
Shortly thereafter, Tiffany and I were first formulating ideas for our fledgling theatre-creating machine (which you all now know as The@trics) and the idea evolved right before our very eyes. “What if we auctioned off the items after the play?,” queried Tiffany over a productive meeting over a pound and a half of steamed crab legs. “Yeah!,” I responded. That suggestion underlined a central idea that I hadn’t been able to put my finger on until she asked that simple question: Every thing on stage would be special because it would have a story. A point, which stands for a beautiful metaphor about the items and people around us that have had life outside of our view, illuminated by her simple yet brilliant idea. I knew there was a reason I love collaborating with her!
Oh, and Fun Fact: thrifTheatre was the original name for our company, complete with the bowler hat and two-toned “T” logo.
At the time, we were thinking we would do the thrifTheatre concept a lot – which now we realize is definitely best served as more of a once-in-a-while idea as opposed to framing your entire theatrical output around it. While the two of us are glad we settled on The@trics for our name, those first conversations about reaching out into community-based organizations is something that is infused into the core of everything we do here at The@trics – and for that, we couldn’t be more grateful.
But needless to say, thrifTheatre has been on our mind for a while. And in the meantime the idea has been germinating, just waiting for a reason for The@trics to put it on.
On a whim, earlier this year, I applied for funds for thrifTheatre from the Puffin Foundation. If you haven’t heard of these phenomenal folks, they are a grant-giving group for under-recognized artists and art organizations. Back in June, a letter came bearing great news – The@trics had been selected to receive a Puffin Theater grant for the 2012 cycle. The only caveat was that the festival needed to occur before the end of the calendar year.
The wave of excitement gave way to panic as we looked at our jam-packed calendar. We honed in on December to get in before the deadline because of the faith and fundage the Puffin Foundation was putting into thrifTheatre. Since we were grabbing all of our awesome items from the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ) Thrift Shop here in Prescott, we approached CCJ about being involved. Fresh from their first theatrical stint with Nickeled and Dimed this past February, their fantastic coordinators Michael Dummeyer and Vanessa Silverstein jumped at the chance.
With CCJ on board, Tiffany then contacted our ready and willing playwrights, both here and Los Angeles, and we sent them pictures of the 16 items we’d amassed, including (but not limited to): yellow fishing waders, a large dog kennel, a satin bowling jacket, a mini Casio keyboard, a lamp made out of a small barrel, a plastic poker mat, a blue piggy bank, a pitchfork, the strangest little pillow anyone has ever seen, and a carved wooden little boy. Then in mid-August, we received nearly 20 funny, poignant, intense, brilliant plays which we whittled down to a list of 10. In a countdown to the event next Thursday, we’ll be highlighting each of the final items here on the blog – be sure to check back in each day to get the inside scoop!
While The@trics was working on the production, CCJ co-production work led to securing the First Congregational Church as a space, along with some unique marketing ideas that sprouted forth from initial meetings of the two organizations. Through this, Arizona’s Hometown Radio Group signed on to be the major sponsor of the event. We’re incredibly fortunate for them to have seen this as a worthwhile Quad-City happening (though having one of their anchors, Sandy Moss in one of the shows probably didn’t hurt!).
So, we encourage you to keep checking back here as we count down the days to thrifTheatre with blogs, info about the show, how to bid on the items, and more! Additionally, please be sure to stop by the websites of the major thrifTheatre players – CCJ at www.yavapaiccj.org; The Puffin Foundation at www.puffinfoundation.org; and Arizona’s Hometown Radio Group at www.kppv.com or www.kqna.com or www.cattlecountryradio.com.
Oh! And get tickets! They are $15 – and you can nab them by clicking here, or on that button that says “Brown Paper Tickets” in the upper right portion of this page, or the old-fashioned way by calling us at 928-273-3884. If you are trying to find a great holiday gift for that hard-to-shop-for person, we’ve got you covered!