We met our Kickstarter goals and then some. We are #blessed!

andyFriends,

There is, I think, a hash-tag or (#) that adequately defines how the Cripple Creek Theatre Co. feels at this moment. This hash tag or (#) appears with a certain amount of regularity in the social media forums of the universe, allowing us to express our emotions in more economical practices than a letter or even a blog like this one. Sometimes, we must take a step back and reflect on the gifts, great and small, which visit us everyday. Whether it’s a reunion with a long lost loved one or a particularly good chicken salad sandwich, the hash tag or (#) is the same. So, please, accept this brief thank you missive as our roundabout way of simply stating— #blessed.

When Cripple Creek decided to make its productions free and open to the public, we knew that that you and your support were the key to a bold new direction for the Cripple Creek Theatre Co. and for New Orleans theatre. After all, this company exists after nine years of production only because you continue to reinforce and refine its necessity. We grow as an organization, evolving our practice to better suit our mission, because you show us new and exciting roads to venture down.

Thank you for your bold support of The Cradle Will Rock. Your contributions helped us raise two thousand dollars more than our stated goal and insure that the citizens of New Orleans will have the chance to see exciting, relevant, and remarkably fun theatre. Thank you for believing in Cripple Creek. Thank you for actively sharing the idea that everyone should be welcomed into a theater. Thank you for continually encouraging this company to take new and exciting steps in producing works that provoke social action. Thank you for contributing your hard earned capital so that others might not have to. I will stop with the thanks here, but please know that the list of gratitude stretches for miles.

This kickstarter campaign changed the way we look at patronage. Singular shows and subscription packages keep the theatre industry going, but the amazing spirit of generosity shown to us goes far past traditional modes of support. We see a new and unique model where the money given reserves a seat for someone besides the donor. It’s a thrilling form of selflessness and perhaps points the way to how Cripple Creek will function in the future—as an entity that explores the needs and wants of the community at large, because that community deems that entity as something valuable to possess, support, and evolve. Thanks to you, we get to try it together. Cripple Creek is truly #blessed.

With sincere thanks, gratitude, awe, inspiration, admiration, love, etc.,

The Cripple Creek Theatre Co.

Playing With Others: Cripple Creek’s partners

As a child my mom made me take tennis lessons. I really hated it. I wanted to play volleyball, but my mom said volleyball would be hard to play when I got older because I’d have to find other people to be on my team and play against. With tennis I only needed one other person or a wall if I was by myself. I loathed it, I quit at 13. I’ve always enjoyed activities that demand the participation of lots of people.

Making theatre in an ensemble like Cripple Creek is the only way I truly enjoy creating work. In CCTC we disagree, we argue with each other and running consensus-based meetings is a huge pain in the ass. On the other hand the company has become my home. Working together forces me to articulate my values and reevaluate my opinions, and by doing so CCTC makes me a better artist and human being.

CCTC maneuvers our partnerships similar to how we work as an ensemble: we build intimate relationships that create transformation within all parties involved. Every partnership goes hand in hand with our artistic endeavors and is just as important to our productions as a leading actor or playwright. Partner collaborations support our work and educate our community of artists and theatregoers to be more engaged citizens.

Our partners are not just amazing leaders in the community, they are our friends and inspiration. No single partnership is the same, like any relationship each one is unique and is specific to what everyone needs and how we can best support each other. Here are some of the ways we are partnering with organizations this summer for the Civilian Theatre Project:

1) Collaborative Relationship: MaCCNO is the most involved partnership we have for The Civilian Theatre Project. MaCCNO empowers the New Orleans music and cultural community through collective self-representation and advocacy. You may know them for organizing a protest of a culture-harming Noise Ordinance in January of 2014, which saw musicians 2nd-lining through City Hall.

In March we produced Revolt of the Beavers at Stein’s Deli, and raised funds at every production for MaCCNO. We shared some original songs at their spring fundraiser and promoted The Civilian Project and our community choir. We cross promote events, we’ll be involved in their upcoming teach-in, and they will be leading some discussions about their work during The Cradle Will Rock. Our relationship with MaCCNO is interdependent: they wanted more people to learn about the various ways that law and policy can impact music and culture, through their series of educational sessions, their advocacy campaigns, and their membership program; we want to support and share information about organizations and movements that support the rights of workers in New Orleans.

2) Commissioned Work: Sometimes organizations ask Cripple Creek to create theatrical work for their cause. Every year since Play/Write program, the educational branch of Goat in the Road Productions, was established, we direct two student plays for their annual showcase. The payment for these shows goes towards paying the Play/Write artists as well as contributes to our production budget.

This year we began a new partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), for an upcoming event in June. GNOF commissioned an original play written by our Artistic Director Andrew Vaught about the theme of the event, “The Cost of Poverty.” Cripple Creek’s performance will be presented along with a conversation with Gary Rivlin (Author, “Broke, USA”) about how people pay a higher price for living in poverty and how it affects the entire community.

3) Workshops: Another way we partner with organizations is to facilitate interactive workshops about our work. In April I led a workshop about Arts and Activism for NO/Aids’ Life Skills Program. Since The Civilian Project is all about the 1930s Federal Theatre Project, we looked at scenes from Spirochete, a Living Newspaper on the history of syphilis and how it relates to the medical sector today. Similar to Play/Write, the stipend for the workshop will go towards the budget for The Cradle Will Rock.

We are thrilled and honored to call these amazing organizations our partners. Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to learn about all our and stay updated on upcoming Civilian Theatre Project events. We hope you’ll come out and play with us!

The Civilian Theatre Project series with NOLA Defender

Cripple Creek Theatre Company’s article series section of the Civilian Theatre Project is well underway. Company members, representatives of CCTC’s partner organizations, and individuals from the community have come forward to offer their time to write informative articles to be published in NOLA Defender.

So far we have articles on the mission of the Civilian Theatre Project, the legacy of the WPA in New Orleans, MaCCNO’s current standing and goals in the city, and a history of Revolt of the Beavers. Coming up we have the history of the Project’s main goal The Cradle Will Rock, the benefits of a Civilian Theatre, an in-depth look into the WPA-sponsored guide to New Orleans, and finally some more words about our partners. Check out the links below and stay tuned to www.noladefender.com for a new article every other week.

Depression Impression

Revolt of the Believers 

MaCCNO & the Musical Masses

Civilian Theatre Project: the WPA’s legacy in New Orleans

p1048475981-4

Francesca: How does CCTC walk our walk?

p1048475981-4Since our hiatus began almost a year ago, our company has talked a lot about walking our walk. Cripple Creek’s mission is to produce work that “provokes the general public into social action.” How are we actually accomplishing this goal? Our core audience consistently has a great time at our shows because of our love of history, our hard, yet relevant questions, and our high artistic quality. Yet, are we actually provoking our audience to make the world a better place?

I love theatre because it can change a person’s habit of thought, which will then influence her actions. A transformation that begins with the individual can ripple out to our communities to hopefully make the world we live in a better place. I also love doing theatre because of the indescribable feeling of community generated between collaborators. These values—positive societal transformation and relationship-centric collaboration—are at the core of where Cripple Creek is moving as we prepare for The Cradle Will Rock Project and try to fulfill our mission.

We are developing our partnerships with collective organizing communities in the city and finding ways to support their work. We are learning their stories and how their efforts relate to the history of unions in the south. We hope to continue these relationships well after the curtain closes on the project. We plan to have a fun fundraiser, make all our events free, wear beaver costumes, and have a lot of fun doing it.

We are committed to being an inclusive community of theatre makers. We welcome all people to join our production regardless of professional experience, educational background, race, gender, class, or physical ability. We wish to present work that reflects the city that we love so much and have grown deep roots in. We never ask the people who audition for our shows to come with prepared monologues; for these auditions you can sing a cappella. We encourage any and all to be a part of our work.

One of my muses, director and Louisiana native Lear deBessonet, said of her production of The Tempest at the Public, “…if all we were doing was literally coming together with all the people involved and dancing to a polka song, it would be a political act. I think people from incredibly disparate class backgrounds – not to mention race and religion and culture – but just different class backgrounds, sharing a space equally and having a good time… that, in itself, is a radical political act.”

We couldn’t agree more. We want the ones who live fully and aren’t afraid to show it. Are you a shower-singer, karaoke star, non-actor, or energetic charades-player? Then tell your friends and y’all come out: we want to play with you.

More details on auditions are below or you can visit our Facebook event:

The Cripple Creek Theatre Co. will present Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock in fall 2015. Auditions will be held January 10 with callbacks on the 11th at Akili Academy of New Orleans, 3811 N Galvez St from 12-6pm.

Interested parties should email Andrew Vaught at vaught@cripplecreekplayers.org to reserve an audition time.

Sides will be available for reading. In addition, please, prepare to sing two pieces of music of your own choosing, each 1-2 minutes long. A cappella singing is fine; an accompanist can be provided, but please bring sheet music.

Roles will be available for people of all races, ethnicities, orientations and identities.

Listen to the full score on Spotify here:

https://play.spotify.com/album/4Yw3BdW8K5ImtGEsVwREdV

“The Cradle Will Rock” is Cripple Creek’s return to performance after a yearlong hiatus will skillfully bring the vibrant music of The Cradle Will Rock into the present day in Cripple Creek’s return production after a yearlong hiatus.

More information on Cripple Creek’s mission and body of work can be found on our website at www.cripplecreekplayers.org.

The Cradle Will Rock Project is supported by generous assistance from the Keller Family Foundation and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation.

Cripple Creek is back to work in 2015 with an experiment in civic artistry

andy

 

Comrades,

We have not spoken in some time. I hope this letter finds you well, excited for colder weather, and taking advantage of the wonderful artistic ventures this city is currently offering. In our time away from the theatrical trenches, Cripple Creek has been thinking hard about who we are as a company and what it is we are really trying to accomplish. I must thank you from the deepest place of gratitude for all of your support and encouragement during this delicate and necessary time. Cripple Creek is returning to the stage in August 2015 with Mark Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock.

This show is what we were planning to produce before we took our break, but I’d like to stress that Cripple Creek is not picking up where we left off. We are taking our time off to seriously explore the type of theatre we can make – theatre that will fulfill our mission and continually restore our energy as artists and civic actors. So, while the play remains the same, our philosophy has changed. We will make this play accessible to every citizen in this city. I don’t want to say too much. None of what I’m telling you is a secret, but it’s better to let our actions speak while the notion of Cripple Creek producing another show loses its novelty.

What I will say is this:

1. Auditions are the first two weekends in January; email me for more info or to sign up.

2. We want to create a production that is truly representative of the artistic community of New Orleans. That means going a step beyond saying that all races, ethnicities, orientations and identities are welcome, and stressing how truly revolutionary the image of a diverse and, dare I say, integrated cast and crew can be. As artists we have a job to create worlds as they should and could be. Cripple Creek seeks to present The Cradle Will Rock with a truly representative cast, crew and production team. Help us make this show an example of the city that we fight for, not the one that exists on paper.

3. We won’t be having an eight-month rehearsal period, but we realize awesome opportunities appear each day for theatrical creation as this city’s artists grow in talent, focus, and intention. We want to respect that, which is why we’re holding auditions in January. We hope that the many inspiring individuals who contribute every day to our artistic language feel comfortable and welcome to come see us, read some pages and sing a little bit.

4. Cripple Creek seeks, and has always sought, to wed our creative expression with the real-life victories that so often go unrecognized. This production will feature inspiring organizations using the tools at their disposal to protect the minds, bodies, and souls of this city.

5. At some point between now and August, look for another Cripple Creek production that explores the vital and mystical link between American labor, education, and beavers. It’s clearer than you think.

Thank you for reading. And thank you for the kind words and thoughts that you have given us in these past few months. Our work with Cradle is an experiment in civic artistry. Because of you and the experiences we have shared, Cripple Creek is excited to discover the results.

Andy Vaught

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Andy: CCTC taking sabbatical to rest and re-focus

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Comrades,

I write to you at this moment to say thank you. Thank you for eight years of support, interest, and enthusiasm. The strength and involvement you have given this Company has sustained us as an organization, and allowed us to grow and mature as individuals. Cripple Creek has operated for eight years with the assumption that theatre can change people; oddly enough, the people that it has changed the most are us, the members of Cripple Creek. While we were producing shows that hoped to make you think and act, your support of those shows changed how we thought and acted. Theatre is a funny thing. As we have evolved as artists, our priorities and ambitions have as well. This is the transformative nature of theatre, and our company must transform with it.

We are taking a break. I won’t say this is the end of Cripple Creek, because I don’t believe it is. All of us, though, need to take some time and space to answer some very real questions about what we as an organization actually intend to do, and how we as an organization can go about achieving it.

We are hoping that some time apart will allow us the space to consider how we as a congregation of invested artists and citizens with diverse passions and interests provide Cripple Creek with the correct structure and stability to move it forward as an organization that continues to produce work that provokes social action, but does so with the intention and community organization necessary to strengthen both the work and its desired effects.

Cripple Creek began because we saw a need for a theatre that explored the societal issues facing our city. As the landscape of New Orleans continues to change, and as the expectations we place on our work change, the intentionality that Cripple Creek brings to the productions needs to change as well. Our hope for this sabbatical is to rest, breathe, and explore individual paths for a time. If we can better define ourselves as individuals, then we can better define the ensemble that results from our collaborations.

At this time, we are not planning any new productions for the summer or fall. Our intended production of The Cradle Will Rock will be moved to the summer of 2015. In light of this need for redefinition we choose to present this classic work at a time more amenable to the fulfillment of our mission. We thank all who showed an interest in the work and look forward to collaborating with you in the near future.

I count myself very fortunate to have worked with such an amazing group of artists and performing theatre for such an amazing group of invested, passionate, intelligent individuals such as yourself. Cripple Creek will continue as long as people like you desire art that attempts to change the way we think, feel, and act. We will see you soon.

Yours in solidarity,
Andrew Vaught

CCTC earns 3 Big Easy nods

Many thanks to the Big Easy Theater Awards Committee for their dedication and hard work in putting this list together! We are very honored and of course, excited to have our work recognized by you. See you March 24th!

Cripple Creek shows and staff have cumulatively received 3 Big Easy nominations at this year’s Awards. The Ceremony will be at Harrah’s Casino on Monday, March 24th. Tickets purchased before March 4th are $100 and proceeds will benefit the Foundation for Entertainment, Development and Education (FEDE), which awards grants to support arts education and development. For more information or reservations, call Jon Broder at (504) 483-3129.

Congratulations to all the nominees and New Orleans theater makers!

  • Clybourne Park, Best Drama
  • Francesca McKenzie, Best Director of a Drama
  • Mary Pauley, Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

You can read the full list of nominations here courtesy of Gambit Weekly.

OPEN AUDITIONS: “The Cradle will Rock” by Marc Blitzstein

cradle-poster1aCripple Creek is looking for actors for our spring show! The Cradle Will Rock needs 5-7 singers and actors. All ethnicities, gender, ages welcome! Please e-mail vaught@cripplecreekplayers.org to reserve your slot and join our Facebook event for more updates.

Auditions will take place at the Allways Lounge 2240 St. Claude Ave.

Saturday January 18 11-3p
Sunday January 19 12-4p

(Rehearsals start in March, performances May-June 2014.)

Audition Requirements: Please bring a headshot and resume, availabilities for rehearsal, 16 bars of a song to be sung a cappella (Show is in a similar spirit to Threepenny Opera) and prepare for cold readings.

Synopsis:
The Cradle Will Rock is a 1937 musical by Marc Blitzstein. Originally a part of the Federal Theatre Project, it was directed by Orson Welles, and produced by John Houseman. The musical is a Brechtian allegory of corruption and corporate greed and includes a panoply of societal figures. Set in “Steeltown, USA”, it follows the efforts of Larry Foreman to unionize the town’s workers and combat wicked, greedy businessman Mr. Mister, who controls the town’s factory, press, church and social organization.

The WPA temporarily shut down the project a few days before it was to open on Broadway, so to avoid government and union restrictions, the show was performed with Blitzstein playing piano onstage and the cast members singing their parts from the audience.

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Andy: Micro-tour to Lockport is Cripple Creek milestone

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Artistic Director Andrew Vaught

Friends,

For those of you who visited Possum Kingdom in the secret forest of the St Claude Truck Farm, you have our deepest thanks. Launching a new work into untested waters can be a very scary business, and your support, warmth, and feedback helped to insure a good home for our new play. We will return to the Truck Farm for one night only on November 23rd at 7:00 pm for the New Orleans Fringe Festival. We hope if you missed us the first time you’ll catch us the second. But before that, a road trip!

Cripple Creek is going on the road for the first time in its existence. We are taking Possum Kingdom out of the Truck Farm and we are moving down the bayou to Lockport, LA. There, across from the old historic Lockport Locks, lies a theater dedicated to producing work that speak to the issues, joys, and traditions that make this state and this region so vital. In existence since 2008, The Bayou Playhouse has consistently produced work that provides entertainment to the residents of Lafourche Parish and the surrounding areas. From classic works by Tennessee Williams, to one-man tour-de-force performances from John “Spud” McConnell, to new plays by local writers, The Bayou Playhouse demonstrates a wonderful commitment to Southeast Louisiana and the beauty that its residents can produce. We cannot express the gratitude we feel to Perry Martin, the Bayou Playhouse staff, and the city of Lockport for offering their backyard to us.

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: Limited Seating available, one weekend only!

New Orleans, I strongly suggest you join us out there. Living in the city, we so often fail to experience the natural beauty and simple grace of the surrounding areas, and Lockport has beauty and grace to spare. The theater hangs over the Bayou Lafourche… you can see massive tankers being worked on in the distance, you can look at the beautiful streets and homes of this strong community, or you can be content to watch the water gracefully drift. Any direction you are looking you will be content.

This “micro-tour” is an attempt by Cripple Creek to engage with the surrounding communities of New Orleans in the dialogue we have been having for eight years. For our theatrical community to grow in strength and influence, we as artists need to make ourselves accessible to as many different kinds of audiences as possible. And sometimes that simply means packing up a vision of dystopian reality and moving it 60 miles to the southwest. In this year already so full of newness and surprises, we cannot wait to see what Lockport has in store. Please join us.

See Possum Kingdom. See Lockport. See Louisiana in a whole new way.

Selena: “Possum Kingdom” design rooted in nature, industry

In thinking about the lighting design for Possum Kingdom, I wanted to echo the regeneration of nature already existing within the play. Flowers grow, fish appear in the river, possums return to the forest, and the sun comes out for the first time.

So the play begins in complete darkness. This made me think of miners, working in darkness underground in dangerous conditions to bring us fuel.

I always wanted to do a show with mostly actor-controlled lighting, and was specifically excited about headlamps. I decided the show should start in mostly darkness with the actors using headlamps to light themselves and each other, similar to the lights in the miners’ hats.

Luckily, I am working with a brilliant director and amazing actors who were all willing to indulge this crazy idea and actually make it a reality! We spent time experimenting with the headlamps, figuring out the most effective way for actors to wear them, when to use them to light themselves, and when to use them to light each other. This experimentation, and its results, was all very exciting to me!

I thought about how light should first be introduced to the world. The first rays of sunlight would be weak, similar to the way the sun tries to shine through the clouds in the winter (if you live in a place that has winter). I remembered winters growing up in Chicago, the sky would be grey, sometimes the sun wouldn’t come out for days.

By the end of the show, the trees are full of flowers and leaves, the river is full of fish, and the world is alive. For inspiration, I looked at the quality of light in pictures of lush jungles and forests.

I noticed that the light was actually green, like in the first picture, and the bright yellow of the sun in the second picture. I decided to use similar colors to show to create that alive feeling by the end of the show.

Putting this all together, you can see the arc of the lighting as a character in Possum Kingdom. This is a fairly typical design process, combining life experiences, research, and just random things a designer is interested in. I hope you enjoyed this peek into a designer’s mind.