The Louisiana Project

From March 31, 2010

This is a personal post; a plea for your support for our newest, and, arguably, our most significant project to date.

With Jaime, one of my favorite’s

If you have been connected with DAT for any length of time, you probably know who I am, but in case you don’t, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Mary K. Redington and I am one of the founders of DAT; I am the Executive Producer and Managing Director of the international theatre company.  I founded the company, and now run it with my very best friend in the whole world, Jesse Baxter, our Artistic Director.

Jesse was feeling unfulfilled by the touring theatre he was a part of.  He wanted to travel with theatre, but also to participate in the communities.  Together with our third “Core Company Member”, Kathleen Amshoff, our 10 Company Members and over 100 Traveling Artists, we have traveled to Zimbabwe and Ecuador engaging with local communities through service projects as well as theatre workshops.

I’ve never felt more connected with people than I have through Dramatic Adventure Theatre.  I’ve learned how to really see people and places and life.  I’d never cried so hard, or let my heart open so wide, or loved so deeply before traveling with DAT.

We three traveled together to Zimbabwe in 2007, our first project, along with another amazing actress and friend, Lisa Pettersson.  That project was amazing for many reasons, but the strongest thing to come out of the project was a solid foundation of our work.

We travel, yes.  We see some amazing things, yes.  We have adventures, yes.  But that’s not what we DO.

Lisa, Kathleen, Mary, Jesse

We created something in Zimbabwe, and through the course of the next 3 years in Ecuador, we have been able to put into words.  We lead EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOPS.  Through the use of theatrical tools, we give people (most times young-teens, but we’ve worked with all ages from young kids to adults) an opportunity to expand.  They are able to explore their world, our world, their minds, their lives and find an adventure.

Through these workshops, we have met some incredible young people!  I’ve heard more heart wrenching, death defying, and heart warming stories in our 4 years than ever before.  I’ve learned so much about the unique cultures we’ve worked with.  We’ve exchanged so many experiences and skills and emotions.  It’s been the most incredible blessing.

There has been so much support for these projects.  Financial, yes, but also personal support.  Our cheerleaders are the absolute best.  They see the change in us after every journey.  They hear our stories and see our plays (which often contain the words of our workshop participants).

The question that I’ve heard from our supporters again and again is “When will you do a project in America?”, and “Kids here need these workshops too!”

Collaboration at Amakhosi

We have been wanting to do a project in America since the beginning!  To be honest, our answer is always, MONEY!  It costs so much to do a project in America.  There is a cost for food, hotels, transport, it all costs money.  And, although we do have a web page set up with fees for the “Next Stage” workshopswe are proud to say- WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO FIND ALTERNATE FUNDING FOR THESE WORKSHOPS.WE HAVE NEVER HAD TO CHARGE A SCHOOL FOR OUR WORKSHOPS.

Now is our chance to do an American Project, our first one ever, and once again, we need your help.

For about a year and a half, we’ve been thinking about Louisiana.  It’s actually fitting for many reasons.  As I’ve said, Jesse was really inspired to create this company while acting in tours across the United States.  He’s worked on three big tours, with different companies and all over the states.  EACH ONE of his projects went through Louisiana.  The culture throughout the entire state has been calling to the three of us “Core” members for different reasons and we’re all inspired by the art, architecture, spirituality, food, music, theatre, and the uniqueness that is found all over the state.  We’ve taken individual and group trips to New Orleans since the Post-Katrina Rebuild and we have so much respect for the artists who are reclaiming their city.

Pepsi- Refresh Everything Grants have pledged to help people and organizations like ours REFRESH their communities by giving them the funds they need to make their ideas a reality.  Dramatic Adventure Theatre has entered the voting to be granted $50,000 to make our Louisiana dreams a reality.

Jesse and Mary, visiting students at Loyola University in New Orleans

When we heard about Pepsi’s generous offer, we knew that this was the way for us to get the opportunity to work in Louisiana.  We don’t want to have to charge for our workshops.  This grant would help us travel to Louisiana, connect with Art organizations all over the state, and offer our workshops to up to 12 schools. Our hope is to make a lasting impression on the students we meet.

Some Goals of The Louisiana Project:

1.  To create an original play, “Voices from Louisiana”, using text written by workshop participants all over the state of Louisiana, directed by Resident Director, Kathleen Amshoff.

2.  To write an original play, by Resident Playwright, Jason B. Williamson.

3.  To, through our Next Stage Empowerment Workshops, connect schools across the state with local arts organizations who can continue to collaborate after we’re gone.

4.  To research the potential for an ACTion: Louisiana project, in which we would continue to bring emerging artists to Louisiana to work on service projects as well as teach more Empowerment Workshops.

How can you get involved?

It’s so simple.

1. Go directly to the Refresh Everything Page and clickVOTE FOR THIS IDEA.

2. Join our mailing list and get reminder updates sent to your email (only for the month of April).

3. Are you on Facebook?  Become a fan of Dramatic Adventure Theatre and get daily reminders in your news feed.

This simple, daily click is going to change our lives, change our company, and forever impact children all over the state of Louisiana.

Pepsi has done their part to support this “refreshing” cause.  Please do your part and click, so that we can continue our work, here, on our home soil.

ACTion: Ecuador 2010

From November 7, 2009

Are YOU Ready for ACTion?

Jesse and I sure are!  We’re here in beautiful Medellin, Colombia researching a DAT project, but we took the day to reformulate the ACTion pages on the website.  After ACTion ’09, we asked everyone to fill out surveys about things they loved about the ACTion ’09 project and things we should change for next year.  Now that we’re all up to date, let me tell you some of the exciting plans for ACTion:Ecuador 2010.

More time to explore Quito

Quito is the thriving cultural capital of Ecuador.  Jesse and I will be heading there in a few weeks to begin exploring a selection of museums and art exhibits.  Before leaving for Ecuador, you will work with you director and cast to create an itinerary of cultural exploration.  This will 1- get your cast focused pre-trip by beginning to think about how you’d like to approach your work and 2- help you make the most of your time in Quito.

More Masters Classes in Quilotoa

This beautiful Andean community is where you will learn from world renowned teacher, Wolf- etc, the art and history of the mask dance.  Wolf will help us choose our wooden masks by by sharing with us the meaning of each animal or human character and will then help us with a fitting of foam and elastic.

Changes in Quilotoa include a shorter stay (as we finished the community center last year) to enable us more service time in our second week destinations; one-stop-lodging, we will stay together with our casts in conjoined cabins; a mixture of group prepared means; the mask workshop will now include a mask; in addition to mask dance, you will have two more masterclasses led by DAT company members: First the “Teaching Workshop” led by DAT’s Director of Education, Christen Madrazo, in which you will learn teaching techniques DAT’s staff have developed and used in Zimbabwe and Ecuador and have the opportunity to share techniques that you have learned as well.  You will then utilize these teaching skills with Christen’s supervision and guidance in Quilotoa, but then your skills will be put to the test on your second week adventure.  Second the “Playwriting Workshop” with DAT’s Resident Playwright, Jason B. Williamson, who will challenge your cast to create a dynamic piece by teaching you the basics of play structure.  Jason will give you practical skills that you will utilize during your creation process.

More Service in Mindo

Mindo can be a very intense part of the trip, particularly if your cast isn’t far along in the piece, but for many artists last year, Mindo was lacking a key element, more community time.  Christen, the teaching host, has been working with schools in Mindo and the teachers are thrilled to allow us into their classrooms.  Each director will work with Christen to balance rehearsal with school time, and -of course- adventure and relaxation.

More Mindo updates:  Playwright and Dramaturg, Jason B. Williamson will be in Mindo and will work with you and your director to clean the piece, help with polishing and tighten the script and execution.  Artistic Director Jesse Baxter will also be here to help with last minute bumps in the play and to make sure you’re ready for New York City.


We understand that many artists spend a lot of time researching their second week adventure so we’ve added more days to this portion of the trip.  Here are some more improvements we’re making to the second week adventures:

Esmeraldas- The Coast

This years Esmeraldian Adventure will include more teaching and service days and a trip to a new local beach, which will be determined on our next few weeks during the ACTion ’10 preparation.  This section will continue to include a workshop with Hugo Arias Bones, Artistic Director of Esmeraldas based Teatro La Catanga, a theatre company committed to informing the community of social issues through theatre.

La Selva- The Jungle

DAT has had a long and happy relationship with the La Selva Jungle Lodge, a beautiful eco lodge committed to environmental sustainability while sharing while sharing the jungle with nature enthusiasts.  We first found the lodge through their foundation who is working to aid the El Pilche community.  While we will continue to work at this lodge, we will be adding a second lodge to our jungle experience.  This will mean the La Selva artists will fly to Coca, visit one lodge, spend one night at a river hotel in Coca, and travel to a second lodge before flying back to Quito.  Details on this new lodge coming soon.

Galapagos- The Islands

During our last trip to San Cristobal, Galapagos’s oldest inhabited island, we had the great pleasure of working with Hacienda Tranquilla.  In addition to overall community involvement, this amazing foundation is working to reintroduce the islands endemic (natural) species, including the poison apple tree, a main dish for the Galapagos turtle.  More days in the islands allow for more time working with the local and international volunteers, exploring local stories and the island itself by boat, on foot, by truck, and on horseback.

*Note: we will only open 2 of the 16 casts for Galapagos, 12 artists in total, during Groups 1 and 2.

Lagos- The Petrified Forest

This new stop on our ACTion exploration is currently being developed and will only be open to ACTion ’09 alumni.  This years cheapest trip option at $3,000, it will only be open to 2 casts of returning artists (12 actors total.)  Details coming mid-January.

Stay tuned for more updates as Jesse and I travel throughout the country solidifying plans and contacts.

Day 22- Towson University

From October 7, 2008

Towson University!

Towson University!

Hey there!  We’ve been in Baltimore for about a week now and we’ve been working on logistical things forACTion:Ecuador, but today we also have the great pleasure of meeting with students at Towson University.

WOW!  What an amazing group we’ve met so far!  I think this school will really pick a great cast for this project, maybe even two!

Thanks to all the students who came out to the meeting, those who’ve since contacted us on facebook, and to the teachers we’ve met, Jay and Tony.  We look forward to working with all of you at ACTion: Ecuador!

Don’t forget, whether you’re at a school we have or haven’t met with yet.

If this sounds like a project that’s right up your alley, GET YOUR APPLICATION IN TODAY!  The early application fee is $25, but it must be received by NOVEMBER 20TH.  The Groups and Casts will be decided by January 20th, so you still have time to put your teams together, but we only have 128 slots.  That may sound like a lot, but we’re traveling to at least 15 states and 3 times as many schools, so it will fill up fast!

We have a few more days in Baltimore, so stay tuned!

Mary K and Jesse

Contact DAT

Day 7- Durango, Colorado

From September 22, 2008

Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis

Wow, what an experience to get down here to Durango! We drove all day from Vail, where we met some friends for an overnight (it was the weekend, we weren’t slackin’ ;) ).

We’ve spent the day meeting with various theatre classes at Fort Lewis College telling them about our project and about our in depth meeting in the evening. Everyone seemed really receptive and we were excited to meet with them and talk about the project further.

The meeting was GREAT, we have a group there who’ve signed up, and we have two directors for the project!

We stayed with Lisa and Nathan (and Lizzy, Jasper, and SARAH of course) and were welcomed in with open arms! It was such a nice time and we’re so so happy to have had the time with them.

Getting tucked in

Getting tucked in

with Lisa and Nathan

with Lisa and Nathan

Driving to Denver on day 8. More coming soon, check the podcast!

~Mary K and Jesse

Contact DAT

Day 4- More Boulder

From September 19, 2008

Day 4. We had no scheduled meeting with Naropa, but we felt this school would be interested in our project, so we just did what we do everywhere- showed up and hoped to make a connection.

When things are supposed to happen, they do. Cara, the co-chair of the theatre department, just happened to be there at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon and had a few minutes for us! We had a great time talking with her and we think this will be a great opportunity for the students here.

All in all, Boulder turned out to be a great time. We worked really hard, and we also stopped to play. Check out my personal blog for all the behind the scenes Boulder Fun!

Day 5 and 6 are the weekend, so check out the personal blog for those details, and we’ll be back on Day 7, when we meet with students from Fort Lewis College in Durango!

Special thanks to our Boulder hosts, Melissa and Rachel. We had a great time in your lovely home and hope to get back to Boulder soon! Best wishes!

See you in Durango,

Mary K. (and Jesse)

Contact DAT

Day 3- Boulder, Colorado

From September 18, 2008

So here we are in Boulder and we’ve had a really busy day! We drove up from Denver, because with another trip to Durango that has been added to our schedule it ended up being the cheapest thing to do.

We met with Bruce Bergner the Interim Chair of the Theatre Department at University of Colorado, Boulder and we had a great meeting. I think the students from that program will really benefit from this trip and I’m anxious to talk to them personally when they start hearing about the project. (So students, CONTACT US HERE.)

We’re also being hosted by a very nice family in Boulder, a connection made thanks toglobalfreeloaders, and we’ve been treated very well by them and everyone we’re meeting.

So tomorrow we’re going to look into another school in Boulder that we haven’t been able to make contact with just yet. Wish us luck and we’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

~Jesse and Mary K.

Click here for our personal Dramatic Adventures

Mary K and Jesse at CU Boulder

Mary K and Jesse at CU Boulder

Contact DAT

Day 2- what are you doing exactly?

From September 17, 2008

College Tour 2008

College Tour 2008

So, it occured to me that some people might not understand what exactly it is we’re doing on this crazy college tour. I want to take a few minutes and explain things…

Basically, Jesse and I are traveling around the country to talk to colleges, universities, faculty and students about the ACTion:Ecuador Project.

ACTion: Ecuador is a 24-day journey and a once in a lifetime opportunity to share what they’re learning about theatre, explore new surroundings and grow as an artist and a human being– all at the same time! ACTion: Ecuador is an exploration of many unique and interesting parts of an intriguing country which just happens to sit on the equator, at the center of the world!

We are traveling around to over 20 cities in over 10 states between now and the end of December. We might be coming to Your Town!

Here are some extras about the trip that people might not know:

~we’re not staying in hotels! In order to save company money and make the trip as inexpensive as possible for students, we are staying with friends, family and couch surfing everywhere we go.

~November 12th-December 12th will be spent on a road trip from Baltimore to California and back.

~We’ll be podcasting once a week to update the status of our trip. We will talk about fun things we’ve seen of done and interesting people we’ve talked to. Of course, we’ll also update you on students and schools who come on board. If you’re not signed up for the PODCAST <- click there and sign up. You’ll find videos from Zimbabwe and Ecuador, as well as College Tour updates.

So click on all the fun links in this blog:

ACTion:EcuadorCollege TourPodcast, DAT

We’re excited to get started and we’ll meet with a school in Boulder CO tomorrow!

Updates soon,

Mary K.



From September 14, 2008

Hi again from DAT, we’ve got a lot of exciting things happening right now.

1st- we hired the first two Directors for the Action Project. We’re so excited to welcome Jennifer Wren and Jon Campbell to our team of traveling artists. Many many details on these two amazing artist to come.

2nd- we’re gearing up for the College Tour. Jesse and I leave on Monday (tomorrow) to start our journey and will be in Denver on Tuesday, and Boulder on Thursday, and then back to Denver the following week. We hope to talk with at least 7 programs (school or theatre companies) while we’re there and have meetings set up with 4 (we have plenty of time, we’ll be there from the 17th-26th of September). If you know any schools in Denver, or in any of the places on the College Tour that you think might be interested in meeting with us and learning about the program, let us know.

Also- if you know of some schools in places we won’t be going, send us some contact people and we’d be happy to send along some brochures to you to talk to the schools or for us or we’ll even just send the brochures to them.

This is a different kind of project than DAT has ever done. It’s going to take all of us to band together to make this a huge success. In doing so we will not only effect DAT’s traveling artist staff, and the lives of the 128 Theatre Students who come on the trip, but we will also make a huge change for the people in Quilotoa, Esmeraldas, El Pilche and Isla San Cristobal.

This project will help so many people, and if we all band together, it will be a success!

3rd- Are you reading this right now? Have you read other posts and looked at the cool photos?

Then leave us a comment!!!! Let me know who’s out there listening so I can gear my info to what you care about!

Thanks for reading, and supporting us, and helping us continue our goals of ACTing to EMPOWER VOICES!.

Looking forward to your comments,

Mary K.

Managing Director



From September 2, 2008

This is a blog for EVERYONE, although, we’re going to start talking about a topic that every WOMEN understands…


We’ve all been in a situation where we needed to use the restroom and there wasn’t a good option near by. Sometimes, you just can’t hold it.

Take Mary-

Mary’s a normal person, she drinks water and then she has to tinkle. Mary found herself in an uncomfortable situation one day while working with school kids in Ecuador. Mary needed to tinkle, and the nearby facilities were not up to… her standards of cleanliness. Let us add- Mary is very sensitive to bad smells, and couldn’t even overcome her sensitivities to use the toilet, so she decided to squat outside. This is the result, tinkle on her shoe.

Unfortunately, Mary forgot something at home. Something that would have saved her the embarrassment of walking around the rest of the day wearing a sprinkle from her tinkle. She forgot her Whiz!

The glorious staff at Whiz Freedom had donated this amazing product to Dramatic Adventure Theatre for the trip to Ecuador and the result is this: These four female traveling artists have discovered a product that will be in their lives forever!

Now, unfortunately, Mary was without her beloved Whiz while in Ecuador, but since our return, she hasn’t been without it for one day. Not only has she used it while in the bushes, but she’s also used it many times in her home city of New York.

“You would think a city as big as NY would have proper facilities,” Mary says, “but that’s not always the case. I’ve used my Whiz at port-a-potties and other dirty places, as well as restrooms where there isn’t enough space to sit down comfortably.”

Mary received her Whiz as a birthday gift and used it for 4 months before the team departed for Ecuador, but the rest of the girls took a little warming up.

Lydia was the first one to try. She used in the first week in Quito after we saw an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice. We didn’t think she’d do, she thought it was crazy, but she just bit the bullet, what was the worst that could happen? She’d pee on herself? Oh well. She went for it, and boy is she glad she did!

“When I first looked at my Whiz Easy in my travel backpack, I thought to myself, hmm I don’t think I’ll be using this,” Lydia says. “Sealed in its plastic pouch, the electric purple pee funnel just didn’t seem like something I would have the guts to try. Then, we landed in Ecuador. I thought, I’m adventerous, I’m confident in my womanhood, I can try something daring. So in a little dirty stall in Quito Ecuador, I ventured into new territory — I used my Whiz Easy. Admitedly, it was awkward at first with numerous questions and experiments to achieve the utmost efficiency. But with a few days, I felt like a pro. That little purple plastic wonder not only saved me from the tiny, shockingly unsanitized stalls of the cities, but more importantly, the countless variety of rainforest ground critters (particularly the Amazonian bullet ants whose bites apparently feel akin to a bulletwound). I have indeed entered a new phase of womanhood when I can pee like a man! Thanks Whiz Easy”

Leslie, with her WHIZ, on a hike in Mindo

Leslie was the next one to try. It took her until Quilotoa, three and a half weeks in. We were walking the mile or so it took to get to the school where we working. A group of girls went off the road a bit to relieve themselves. Leslie tried to use her Whiz, but just couldn’t take the idea of standing up. What if she peed all over her pants? She’d have to spend the rest of the day in them. She decided to squat. Later that day, she went for it, and not a moment too soon.

“I was apprehensive at first. I approached the use of this seemingly innocuous purple funnel with the same trepidation as one would exercise when jumping off a cliff or, say, confronting a gorilla. So much so, that I braved the dirty bathrooms, covered in germs—exposed my bare ass for the entire world to see whilst squatting amidst unknown plants, burrs, twigs in an unfamiliar country.

“When I found myself working with school children in the Andes mountains, where plumbing and running water (being a new fangled and recent edition to the community) made taking a tinkle an everyday battle with all that is germ-ey and unhygienic in this world. (That’s right, it was just like any other school in the world; kids just don’t flush…or wash their hands!) Though I was nervous at first, I realized, as I felt the warm liquid slide through the (very sanitary) whiz ez funnel in one perfect stream into the gaping hole of an Andean toilet, that it was the best invention ever and my new best friend. From that point on I carried mywhiz ez as a badge of honor. Whether in my bag walking through the streets of the capital or in my back pocket during a trek through the jungle, I was never without my plastic, purple friend. In fact, now that I am back in New York City, I find myself seriously considering carrying the whiz around on a Friday or Saturday when confronted with odiously long lines at the Ladies bathrooms. How easy would it be to just jump into the men’s line!” – Leslie

Rachel was the last one to experiment with her Whiz. Although she carried it with her everyday, it wasn’t until the Galapagos, on Isla Isabella, a whopping FIVE-WEEKS into our trip, when Rachel finally bit the bullet and tried out this crazy contraption.

“I decided to go for it and use my whiz easy after getting off a really bumpy boat ride. I walked down a planked path until I got to a secluded bridge and to my utter amazement, I succeeded in peeing off the side of the bridge without taking any of my clothes off. I try not to think about all the times I could have made my life easier with the whiz, and I try only instead to think about how happy I am to have it in my future.”- Rachel

Although it took a little getting used to, the girls had an amazing time with their Whiz Freedoms and are so grateful to everyone at the company for donating them and for supporting our project.

Thanks Whiz Freedom!

OOOOH, I just found a BONUS (Jonas). Here’s one of Mary using the WHIZ over the side of a boat:

when you've got to go, you've got to go!

when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!