Success is Measured in Many Ways

Success is Measured in Many Ways

Hello Everyone-

The first show flew by and now we are in the thick of our second show which opens on November 5th! None of this could have happened without the fine people who came out and supported us. We had a positive earning (budget-wise) with "The Bacchae" and many of the local Oak Park and River Forest residents were so, so kind to us. I/we cannot thank you enough for all the love.

Opening night in September was a huge success for many backers came out and saw the show and then celebrated afterwards via a drink and toast!

It was a lovely sight, and I wish you all could have been there. Never-the-less, the show closed to sold-out crowds, and we were told that our attendance numbers were highest ever in the history of Madison Street Theatre’s Studio space!

On our final Thursday night performance (September 24th), we reached out to Hephzibah Children’s Association in Oak Park and created a PACK THE PLACE FOR HEPHZIBAH NIGHT! This was a night in which all of our show’s earnings for the evening would go 100% to Hephzibah (www.hephzibahhome.org) and the foster children who live there.

We packed the place and raised over $1,000.00 along with an awareness for these children and the difficulties they face. Mary Ann Brown, Hephzibah’s Executive Director, gave a speech afterwards in honor of the cast and crew. It was very special to say the least.

Many of you live nearby and came to see the show and it was truly appreciated. Our website has all your names on it and will forever for all your support. Go to Donation page and have a look!

On August 24th, we got our official 501c3 status granted!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!

I am jumping around everywhere, but before I go, I am asking that you all tell friends and family to come see our next show “Talking With…” by Jane Martin. It is an award-winning, well-written monologue show featuring 11 brave women telling 11 stories. These women are sometimes serious, sometimes funny and very much in search of something. Highly theatrical yet simple.

See the show! Please! We run November 5-7, 12-14, 19-21 at 7:30pm at Madison St. Theatre in Oak Park and also the 8, 15, & 22 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $20-$15 dollars and our website has all sorts of group discount nights! Please purchase tickets via www.stbctalkingwith.brownpapertickets.com now or email us (if you are a season ticket holder) at info@saltboxtheatre.org.

Thanks so much. Hope to see you all there.

This is your theatre, too!

Brian Fruits & Saltbox Theatre Collective

It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

By Brian Fruits

About 24 days ago, we posted our first ever fund-raiser and used Kickstarter as the medium. I was, admittedly, skeptical and nervous. A lot of people, (Andy Pederson in particular) urged me to give it a go.

The results have been overwhelming to say the least. It is very hard to accept donations for it is a rather interesting experience. To be a gracious receiver is not easy by any means. I am reminded by my friend, David Rice (First Folio Theatre), who said to me, “Brian, if you believe in something and do not ask for help then that shows people you do not believe in it.”

There is so much to do so soon and so many people to thank on this journey. It is a lot but the stress breeds not only creativity but also urgency and pressure. These are all good things.

These past 24 days we have achieved our first major goal and raised funds for both rental space and copyrights. I have met so many wonderful people along the way and made connections through drama in Lumberton, New Mexico to Morris, Illinois to Oak Park, Illinois (again). People have stepped up and taken ownership in terms of merchandise, publicity, acting roles, videography, graphic design, web design, social media press and publication. I even have a friend of mine who has volunteered to handle our books for she is a trusted friend who has even handled the books of her own church on the side. We are truly grateful and blessed.

I need to thank the working board and the company and the communities of Chicago, Memphis, and Oak Park for their support thus far. The show rehearsals begin in August and all the dialogue and connections have really provided us with a sold “energy boost” as we head into our first season!

Along the way, we met Dr. Nicholas Rudall (translator of THE BACCHAE) and even were selected to be part of the 50+ theatre company festival: Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theatre Festival 27 between August 14-16th!

I look at all this as just more ways to get know other theatre artists and friends. This is not a competition - just a way for us to continue to grow and learn and share with others. When I was younger, I would have viewed it as only a competition - that is not the case anymore. I look forward to more partnerships.

And You May Ask Yourself: How Do I Work This?!

And You May Ask Yourself: How Do I Work This?!

By Brian Fruits

I started this process back in September of 2014. At the time, I moved back to Chicago with sole hope to produce my own work with other artists both new and old. I was determined to make this theatre company my main artistic focus.

In the past, I toyed with the idea of heading to New York or overseas in order to professionally work and direct. To live pay check to pay check! To see more of the world! To hustle and bustle! To rub shoulders with theatre companies and producers hoping that they would hire me! I even had a few of my friends and professors say, "Well, why the hell don't you want to do it, Brian? What is stopping you? It just seems like the next logical step for you is to just do it!"

I guess it never felt right. Chicago, for me, is my home. It is a great city with so many artistic possibilities. I know that this city is very saturated with theatre troupes already, but my heart is here. My heart is filled with love for my two beautiful godchildren, a bunch of friends who unconditionally love me, and stepfamily I care deeply about. These are my roots.

A long-time Chicago jazz musician by the name of Von Freeman passed away in 2012. He always stayed in Chicago. He never left to record or work with other musicians cause he loved it so much. His goal was "to bring the world to him" and he did.

I am not saying I am Von Freeman, but his life and death inspired me to try this out. I mean how cool is it to produce your own work? My hope is to open our doors up to all comers from all parts of the country and world. Why not me? Why not us? I knew that if I tried this out and it failed then I would be successful cause I tried. Those who don't try...well...they usually end up with regret.

I digress.

I have gone into these past months (almost a year now) with no aspirations of directing or taking on a paid gig somewhere. I laid low and focused on the creation of this collective and all the paperwork and stress that comes along with it. I never went into graduate school saying, "You know, I cannot wait to file out a 501(c)(3) packet!! Whoo!!"

No.

Not fun...but necessary. Definitely necessary.

How did I start? My first week back here, I assembled a "think tank" consisting of trusted friends and fellow theatre practitioners to bounce ideas off of. To be honest, I went into the meeting with no expectations, an open-mind, and no pre-conceived mission statements or shows to suggest. Needless-to-say, I was scared. I realize that fear tends to stimulate the creative juices for I am not one who likes to fail.

Looking back at the "think tank" meeting, I remember telling everyone that I wanted them to help me form the theatre company. It was as if I would feel better if they approved of me and my desire to start the company up. That is really all it was: It was a way for me to make sure that I was not crazy, really. It was a way to see if I still had people/family here, in Chicago, who believed in me...who would support me. I guess I needed that more than a mission statement.

From there, I sought out people who could help me: friends of mine in law, people good with numbers, film and graphic artists, teachers, fellow theatre people, etc. I wanted to learn and create this company the right way.

What I am saying is that I do not know all the answers, but I do know that I want to be better and I want to learn. The amount of support and help has been overwhelming. I am so grateful and happy where Saltbox Theatre Collective stands, currently. Even our mission statement is about "realizing the human experience." The word "realize" meaning "to clearly understand or grasp" used as a verb. I still feel that theatre brings people of all types and backgrounds together. Our doors are open to not just artists but professors, teachers, painters, dancers, designers, doctors, missions workers...the list goes on and on.

The mission statement will always change and evolve, but I will always see theatre as a service profession. It is about others and a selfless craft. This is just a way to say thank you to so many who have volunteered their times and talents already. It means more than you.

I hope others out there know that we are on to something special here. Feel free to be reach out and be apart of it.

Mostly True

Mostly True

By Brian Fruits

In the first chapter of his controversial book True and False, David Mamet fires out something that has always stuck with me. Mamet says “those (artists) who have come up from the streets rarely have interest in their own performance for they instinctively seek to please others namely audience members.” Here, Mamet is praising the power of the audience for we, as theatre practitioners, are nothing without them. Though I sometimes cannot stand Mamet and his ideals, I completely agree with his observation in this case.

Theatre is meant to be shared with society; it is meant to be unselfish and, above all, life-changing. To me, the best storytellers are the ones who have seen it all. They have seen the good and the bad; the beautiful and the ugly. They have been rich and poor both tangibly and metaphorically. They have seen success and failure, they have known what it is to be chosen and left behind. Coming from several broken homes myself, I understand the power of healing and unification in theatre; I have found my safety and my home there.

Our theatre is a place of community and acceptance of ideas and values open to all. There is much power in theatre, as Hamlet says, it is a way to hold a mirror up to society and ask the questions: Who are you? What are we? What do we want to be? Where are we heading? When will we understand? When will we change? Are we able to change? If theatre should be accessible to everyone, why do we (as an audience) need to pay attention?

The Saltbox Theatre Collective realizes that all people have a voice and can have impact within the theatre world. If we are producing a play about the life of a policeman…bring in a policeman. If we are producting a play about a government official…bring in a government official. If we are producing a play about people dying of cancer…find a way to visit the nearest oncology ward. If we are producing a play about a woman who misses her child in prison…seek out a way to understand these human-beings by partnering up with a local missions group, meet them them and listen to their stories. We strive to be ears as much as we are a voice.