To say it’s been a big year for Bare Theatre would be an understatement.
2014 has been busy, crazy, inspirational, and unforgettable. This year we wrapped up our ninth full season – which happened to be our biggest ever. Total season attendance was almost 4,000 (by comparison, our first season was around 800).
We cannot do any of what we do without the many talented actors and hard-working crew that put in ridiculous hours to create this art. Nor can we do it without the Kickstarter supporters and audience members who believe in what we do. So many good people made all of our accomplishments possible.
Here’s a look back at what we all achieved together:
It was a huge year for Let Them Be Heard. Our third production at Historic Stagville in Durham took place in February rather than June, and the site staff built fires in the slave quarters for audiences and actors to warm themselves. Six newly developed narratives were on display, and the night chill lent the perfect atmosphere for the heart-wrenching true stories that came from North Carolinians who knew slavery firsthand.
One note for the future: bats inhabit the slave quarters during the winter.
After 12 performances over 2 weeks at Stagville, the show moved into a theater for the very first time. The ArtsCenter in Carrboro were gracious hosts, and the experience in front of a comfortable, seated audience, was made more powerful by the fact that all the actors were onstage together for the entire show. Another 5-star review from the INDY and several other rave reviews followed, and audience feedback was overwhelmingly supportive.
Laura Jernigan returned to Bare Theatre to direct one of her favorite Shakespeare plays, and for almost a month we inhabited the huge 100+ year old warehouse space at Golden Belt in Durham, known as the Cordoba Center for the Arts. This was a real return to the roots of Bare Theatre – just nine actors played all the roles with extremely minimal costuming and staging.
Excellent reviews followed, with The News & Observer calling it Bare Theatre’s strongest Shakespeare yet. Most of the performances sold out.
Our third co-production with Raleigh Little Theatre in the amphitheatre by the Rose Garden was a collaboration between William Shakespeare and his successor, John Fletcher. “Two Noble Kinsmen” is a retelling of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales, and it a complicated pageant about loyalty, honor, and desire. It was our second collaboration with Cirque de Vol Studios – this one focusing on fire acts, acrobatics, hooping, and stilt walking – and our first real foray into shadow play.
It is a true achievement that some 1,500-strong audience saw this, the only play with Shakespeare’s name on it that has not been made into a film. Reviews were almost all positive – this was a magical night of theatre under the stars with a rarely-seen work. Also, fire swords.
The actors from Let Them Be Heard reassembled over the summer to take versions of the show to Hope Plantation in Windsor, NC, and Somerset Place State Historic Site in Creswell, NC. Both of these sites are absolutely beautiful, and rich with conflicted and painful history.
After seven performances at the two historic sites, several of the actors performed at the Durham School for Creative Studies, where they shared slave history with students between sixth and eighth grade.
Our tenth season opened with a full production of the play that was the very first performed by Bare Theatre. Back in 2001, Carmen-maria Mandley directed a staged reading in the Gaddy-Goodwin Theatre at RLT. This time, 13 years later, we performed at Halifax Mall – a government building campus that was the site of the 2013 and ’14 Moral Monday protests against the state legislature.
On the largest and “most expensive set” we’ve ever had, there were challenges and benefits. We were able to rehearse the whole time onsite – a huge benefit for a traveling company without its own space – although we occasionally had to contend with State Capital Police who had not been notified by their dispatch that actors with stage weapons were onsite!
Reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and most shows sold out.
Thanks to the many volunteers, actors and audiences for making 2014 such a wonderful year. Thanks to our Kickstarter supporters who helped us raise $9,363 for three successfully funded projects (Cymbeline, Two Noble Kinsmen, Coriolanus). Thanks to RLT, Cirque de Vol Studios, Historic Stagville, Hope Plantation, Somerset Place, Golden Belt, Durham School for Creative Studies, Raleigh Charter High School, the State Capital Police, and the NC Department of Administration for all their help in creating one-of-a-kind experiences for all involved.
Planning for 2015 is already well underway. Stay tuned in the New Year!
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