The Kingfisher Theater is three years old!
Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re about to launch our third theatrical season and sometimes it simply feels like an obvious next step, especially when I think of how our entire creative and management team has worked so hard to make it happen. What was once only a concept–creating ‘a safe space for artists to flourish in stormy seas’–is becoming a reality!
Determination, rallying cries, elbow grease, and imagination have propelled our orbits around a kernel of an idea which has metamorphosed into a true emerging arts institution for the City of Rochester.
I remember our very first production, Oedipus Rex, and wondering, among other things, if anyone in Rochester would come to see this ancient Greek play interpreted through a gender-bent lens? Or, would these unknown-to-me theatre artists even stick through with it and make it all the way to opening night? Would our actors be able to handle the heavy lifting of one of the most gut-wrenching stories in the history of Western Theater? (Answers: yes, yes, and a resounding yes!)
Then there was the creation of an original new work, The Devil, the Witch, and the Blacksmith! Not only did we choose one of the most challenging writers in Russian* literature from which to take inspiration, we had to do it quickly! What a ride that first production was! Amy and I were writing and producing and directing and acting and designing and trying really hard to keep our cool. All of our technical crew (the inimitable Ben!) and acting talent were right on board with us, even with no dress rehearsal before opening night! (Shhh! Our little secret.) The Devil Himself, the late Carl Girard, graced the stage and our company with a kind of cool professionalism that would make the best on Broadway envious.
And there are so many more stories… the wild Restoration sex romp, Sir Patient Fancy, where on one particularly packed night I watched from the wings as audience members were rolling in the aisles like something out of The Carol Burnett Show. Those are the moments we live for!
Last season’s opener, Strindberg’s taut psychological thriller Creditors, was an artistic triumph (so much so that we’re mounting it again at this year’s Fringe), followed by another, completely different staging of DWB, and finally ending our 2016-2017 Season with Elizabeth Robin’s suffragist play, Votes for Women!
Votes for Women! was for us a particular kind of milestone. Not only was it–in the wake of the 2016 election–the most immediately resonant play of our programming, but it was also the first show in which we were awarded a grant–a $5,000 Action Grant from Humanities New York. We also had an opportunity to work alongside another Rochester cultural institution–The Susan B. Anthony House & Museum. Finally, it was also our first production directed by a guest artist, a one Connor Graham from Buffalo, NY. It felt to many of us, that we had arrived.
If our first season was laying the foundation, and our second season was reaching out to connect the wider community, what is our third season going to be?
The ambitions and anxieties of a brand new company are starting to fade and be replaced with… new anxieties and ambitions. There are so many challenges to tackle! How do we grow, and how fast? How should we grow? How do we better serve our artists? Our community? Our audience? What’s the best way to put on some more damn good plays?
These are larger questions that cannot be answered in a simple blog post, but I can tell a little about what what we’ve done to start to address them.
Development & Fiscal Responsibility
The Kingfisher Theater has recently reached our 2017 Guidestar Gold Seal of Transparency and has signed an official letter of engagement with Olivia Jones and Artseed of New York City. GuideStar is an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies, while Artseed works to assist smaller nonprofit organizations develop their fundraising capacities. We’re also aiming to offer more professional, union contracts for all theater artists, and hope to designate ourselves as a ‘Small Professional Theater’ with the Actors Equity Association.
We’ve Expanded Our Season
The first thing we thought we’d do is offer up just one more show, and so we’ll be presenting our first Summer show (June 2018) in the manner of Much Ado About Nothing, our very first Shakespeare! (See our Season Announcement here.) There will be at least two new readings of original works, and we aim to launch our series of panel discussions–The Third Culture Project–fostering discussion & interplay between the Humanities and the Sciences. Last but not least, in November we’ll be taking the latest version of The Devil, the Witch and the Blacksmith to New York City!
The art of theater–and the artists who make it–cannot rest on its own laurels, and so the skills and techniques must be shared and fostered within the greater community. This past summer’s Conservatory launch included a wonderful scene study where local actors dove into the works of the great playwright Anton Chekhov, and we look forward to offering more classes in the future for serious artists to hone their skills.
Our Very Own Home?
As part of our 5 year plan we’re hoping to have secured our very own venue in the City of Rochester to offer more shows, readings, and classes.
We hope you’ll continue to take this journey with us, and we thank you for being with us as we’ve come this far.
Founding Artistic Director