This is a guest post that is a part of our new interview web series. Featured Entrepreneurs are interviewed and talk about their experiences, journey to success, and overcoming challenges.
What does it take to bring a thought-provoking play to life? Check out our behind the scenes interview with the The Orig-O-naL Theatre Company on Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” http://www.theblacksfringe.com/who-are-we.html.
1. Q: Can you tell us a little about The Orig-O-naL Theatre Company?
A: The Orig-O-naL theatre company is dedicated to examining, probing, and discussing the social perceptions surrounding race, identity, gender, sexuality, and religion. Our current social climate has called us to provoke critical discussion and thought about the prejudices and judgments embedded in our social constructs that allows for the killing of unarmed black men and the denial of rights for the LGBTQ community, to name a few. We are a community of artists invested in creating a space to deepen awareness of these issues. We think of awareness as a continual effort. It is not a concept to be known and dismissed, but rather an entity perpetually expanding and deepening in refinement. We make art that humbles the individual as a means for all of us to take an active investment in each other’s struggles.
- Q: What is the modern-day significance of reenacting The Blacks: A Clown Show by Jean Genet (originally published in 1958)?
A: The first production in the United States came at a time when the Civil Rights movement was establishing a legal vehicle for racial equality. Our production comes fifty years after that equality became law and in the middle of a national debate on LGBTQIA rights. Doing this show at this time, asks the question of its audience: where are we now? And in answering that question, we’d like to start a conversation about inequality and dangerous prejudices by provoking critical discussion and thought about deadly judgments embedded in our social constructs.
- Q: How important is teamwork in the overall success of the play?
A: It is imperative. There are five of us on the production side, and ten actors, so before anyone signed on, we needed to know they were not only artistically invested, but emotionally too. This is a passion project for all of us, and without us working together and prioritizing this production, it coudn’t happen. The team that we have assembled are all passionate about creating this artistic response to a lot of deeply emotional experiences. We bring a lot of heart to the table, and because telling this uniquely crafted story is the core of our work, it makes it easy to work together.
4. Q: What is one of the most challenging experiences that you’ve encountered and how’ve you overcome those challenges?
A: Like any guerilla production, we’ve had our fair share of challenges: lack of financial resources, lack of rehearsal space, trying to work around busy actors schedules… the usual theatre hurdles. What has been incredibly grounding, however, is each other. We are all so committed to this project that we are willing to sacrifice whatever we need to make it work. Working with people who are happy to (be) inconvenienced to tell this story, and having a strong support system of people who want us to thrive has made it all work together. Theatre is magic that way.
5. Q: What outlets are you using to market the play?
A: Social media and word of mouth mainly. We have flyers and posters, but the timeliness of this project has made it well received. We’ve had a couple of press releases written and distributed and now you’re writing about us too! 🙂
6. Q: The play will be performed in West Hollywood, CA this coming June. Can you describe how the independent theatre scene is right now in the LA area?
A: It’s exciting! The Hollywood Fringe is the largest performing arts festival in LA, so it’s great to be acquainted with such illustrious folk. There are some things shifting with the 99 seat plan, but as of right now, LA is the place to premiere nouveau, edgy passionate work with professional and talented actors in beautiful theatre spaces. We’re happy to be here and even more gracious to get to share our work with Los Angeles.