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.