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

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