Well folks, 2015 was a record-breaking year. Our little theatre company-that-could has been growing rapidly in the past few years, and last year was no exception. All three productions that took place this year broke our own box office records. Measure for Measure was our biggest non-amphitheater show until Titus Andronicus, and Macbeth became our highest-grossing, most attended show ever!
This was also a year of firsts. We held our first performances in Chapel Hill, at two exciting venues. We had some ladies direct for us for the very first time. We also had an all-female show – a company first.
Before we go any further, we want to thank everyone who made this year so unbelievably successful. Thank you to all of the folks who have contributed on Kickstarter, thanks to everyone who came to see our shows, thanks to all the talented crew and actors who went on these journeys with us. We love all of you and we could not do any of this without you!
2015 officially kicked off a collaboration with Burning Coal Theatre Company, Raleigh Little Theatre, Theatre in the Park, Playmakers Repertory Company, Seed Art Share, NC State University Theatre, and the North Carolina Symphony. Designed as a way to celebrate the most famous playwright in the world (who was a contemporary of the city’s namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh), we designed a co-marketing campaign along with the generous support of WUNC 91.5 FM – North Carolina Public Radio and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Kickoff event was hosted at The Hive with a performance by our friends The Nickel Shakespeare Girls and a discussion moderated by “The State of Things” host Frank Stasio. Here’s a video excerpt:
Despite several major snowstorms in February, we managed to rehearse one of Shakespeare’s problem plays under the direction of Bev Schieman, in her first role as director. Measure was our first time performing in Chapel Hill, and it was one of the most unique and wonderful venues we’ve ever been in – the historic Varsity Theatre on Franklin St. Originally built in 1927, this quaint old movie-house gave us the opportunity to place the story in a 1920’s Parisian setting, and use the giant screen for backdrops and an amazing video dream sequence shot by Bombshell Studios’ Michael Babbitt.
This was the first time since the current owner had been at The Varsity that live theater had been held in one of his rooms. This relatively-unknown morality play brought in more attendees than the films playing at the time, and made a nice offering somewhere in between 50 Shades of Grey and Spongebob Squarepants!
We closed out the 2014-15 season with a return to Macbeth, which we first produced back in 2006. This time we took the show outdoors and went BIG! Associate Director Rebecca Blum took the director’s seat with us for the first time and gave the familiar tragedy a new twist. With only minor adjustments to the script in terms of chronology and reassigning some lines, she was able to draw new family bonds and connections between the characters. The Macbeth family now had a teenage son – which gave Macbeth a visible reason to fight for his family line. The witches became crones, each a grandmother to the families of Macbeth, Macduff, and Banquo.
There is often talk in the theater world about a curse associated with this play. While we cannot confirm or deny the existence of this curse, we can say that weather did not cooperate with us for our Raleigh run of the production at Raleigh Little Theatre! While several tech rehearsals and a few show nights got rained out, the ominous storm clouds and lightning off in the distance made for unforgettable theatre the nights we were able to go on!
Our July run in Chapel Hill’s beautiful Forest Theatre saw much better weather. The old stonework and encroaching woods made a perfect setting for “the Scottish play.” Thanks to the town of Chapel Hill and the Downtown Partnership for helping us bring Measure and Macbeth to the home of the tar heels!
We look forward to September each year because of this amazing festival. It’s especially fun to do things we wouldn’t normally do. This year, because we were in between Macbeth and Titus Andronicus, we thought it would be fun to have them do a rap battle:
Ten years after Bare Theatre reemerged at Common Ground Theatre, we returned to the play that ignited what this company has become. This time, Heather Strickland directed an all-female cast that reimagined the play in a modern society comprised of only women. Seldom do women get the opportunity to play such roles in the male-dominated world of Shakespeare, but we have always found that cross-gender casting (as well as casting against age or without regard to ethnicity) works quite well.
It was great to be back at Common Ground, spraying stage blood and throwing pie! Aside from all the fun, this was a remarkable journey for cast and crew (who were also all female). Together they held brutally honest, revealing discussions about what it means to be a woman in today’s world, and they examined ways in which women support each other or tear each other down. We want to give special thanks to the Carolina Women’s Center for helping to facilitate some of these discussions!
We were honored last month to have received accolades from The News & Observer! Roy Dicks commended Rebecca Blum specifically for her roles in Measure for Measure and Titus Andronicus. While not named individually, Bev Schieman and Heather Strickland joined her in contributing to the trend of more female representation and shows directed by women.
2015 was huge. We hope you enjoyed these productions as much as we’ve enjoyed putting them together. Again, thank you if you have touched or been touched by Bare Theatre in any way this year.
Happy New Year, and we look forward to lots of great things in 2016!
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