The #PressForward Press, Issue No.4
It began long ago.... Fate ran its ever-twisting course to yet another pivotal moment of destiny.... In that moment, the sun shone brightly down on a small huddle of friends.... Whispers of imagination and the promise of infinite possibilities danced lightly on the late summer breeze....
This is the story of how Forge was born.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite that long ago. And maybe it wasn't quite as poetic as previously mentioned (ahem, dramatic much?). But as our first season closes and we look to the future of our company, we decided to share the story of how Forge Rep came to be.
All poetry and drama aside, our story began as many others probably have-- on a sunny afternoon with refreshing beverages and a small group of passionate artists who gathered to share in each other's company. Over the course of the afternoon, questions like "What if?" and "Could we?" became increasingly prominent, and the idea for a new theatre company was born. As thought after thought came tumbling out, we found ourselves increasingly excited by how the pieces seemed to fall into place.
This lighthearted soiree was followed by more meetings, many of which stretched into several hour affairs, usually accompanied by copious amounts of caffeine and the occasional late-night pizza run. We met in community rooms, library meeting rooms, and our own living rooms, each time discussing and planning how we could best make our vision a reality. Although there is a fun element of "inspired starving artists" to this story, the truth is that a lot of the time spent together was grueling work. Where we are today is a result of endless advice from fellow theatre leaders and business advisors, as well as collaboration and compromise in our own team. And if we hope to stay true to our vision and create a lasting impact, the advising and collaboration are never really over!
Shout out to our collaborators!
Remember all of our gorgeous poster designs? Not to mention our totally flamin' logo and imagery? (Pun absolutely intended.) All those beautiful designs are thanks to the inspirational work done by Autheo Graphics & Design!
We are also proud to partner with The Acting Chef for all our catered events and cast potlucks. Want quality catering with a flair for the dramatic? The Acting Chef is your answer!
A lot of our early inspiration for Forge's organizational structure was thanks to conversations had with Nathan Bowman and Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman of Kansas City Public Theatre. Watch for their innovative work within the KC theatre community!
A huge "THANK YOU!" goes to the Midtown Baptist Temple for opening their facilities to us for rehearsal space! We are so thankful for their generosity and we look forward to partnering with them again during our next season.
Finally, we are thrilled to continue our residency with The Black Box. Located in the historic West Bottoms, this new performing arts venue offers versatility with an artsy touch for everyone who produces in their space.
You may be wondering, "What exactly did all those hours spent discussing and collaborating amount to?" During the course of those many meetings, there were a few ideas that emerged as cornerstones to the foundation of our company: inclusivity both on and off stage, the value of perspective, and the celebration of the past reemerging in the present. With those ideas in mind, we adopted the following Mission Statement:
As a professional community of artists creating and revitalizing work through collaborative storytelling, we are committed to:
Building theatrical sustainability through a repertory approach
Breathing life into stories of all shapes and sizes
Igniting conversations which value diverse perspectives and experiences
Fostering a welcoming environment that is accessible to all
When inquiring into the details of our company, many people ask "What is your thing? What makes you different?" To that we respond, "Well, we kind of have two things." In fulfilling our mission and all it embodies, there are two concepts that we have introduced and continually work to improve upon.
1. Emerging Artist Repertory Company
Wouldn't it be wonderful if a theatre company could hire their artists for a consistent amount of time and be able to pay them a living wage? How great would it be to take away the strain of juggling multiple jobs and allow these artists to solely focus on their craft? This premise is exactly what we attempt to create with our approach to a repertory theatre.
Traditionally, a repertory company was known for hiring a company of actors for an entire season, often producing multiple shows at once and performing them on rotation. Our focus is on the first part of this concept-- hiring artists for the duration of a season and ensuring their peace of mind in knowing when their next paycheck is coming.
Although our ultimate goal is to be able to provide for ALL the artists we hire, we have started with a small group of young artists who are new to the community. We call this group our Emerging Artist Rep. You may recall our Season One Emerging Rep (Kitty Corum, Sonia Gwin, Annie Schwaner, and Jace Willcutt) and their involvement in our shows! Cultivating young talent and equipping them with the tools to succeed in the industry is an integral part of our mission. Our Emerging Artists will have the chance to be mentored alongside some of our industry's more experienced members all season long, and can hone their craft in a safe, inclusive environment.
2. Living Ticket Model
At Forge Rep, we believe that theatre is for EVERYONE! In an effort to promote theatrical accessibility, we have completely re-imagined our ticketing system and removed all financial barriers to attending Forge productions. Essentially, all it takes to see a show is to reserve a spot! We call this our "Living Ticket" model.
It may seem an impossible task to pay all our artists a living wage AND allow our audience members to attend shows for free, but we believe it is possible! In order for this to succeed, we rely heavily on small, personal donations from our audience members, our friends, our families, and our fans. To make giving seem a little less daunting, we create three different levels of suggested donation amounts based on each show's budgetary needs. People can then chose one of these amounts, or simply pay what they wish.
If you want to learn more about how the Living Ticket system works, visit our website, and always feel free to reach out to us with questions!
If you feel like jumping on board right away and helping us out, we
always welcome donations, in-kind or otherwise!
And now back to our story....
Once we had our mission and new ideas to share with the community, there was only one thing left to do-- make it happen! The Theatre Alliance KC banquet in August 2019 gave us the perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves. That night, Forge Repertory Theatre became a reality.
And that is the end of our origin story! We could get really poetic again and say the end of this story is just the beginning of something that we hope will be long lasting. But, we think you get the idea, and we have been more than dramatic enough for one blog post!
In earnest, we are honored to be a part of this amazing city and its vibrant culture! We look forward to more stories, more perspectives, and more conversations with you all. Keep your eyes peeled for us in Season Two!
Until next time....