Sketch Block, KL Says Goodbye
In 2002 and 2003, I was lucky enough to be cast in two wonderful shows produced by a community theater in New Jersey called the Barn Theatre, “Kiss Me Kate” and “Ragtime.” Since graduating from college in 2002, it was the first time I had found a theatrical community where I felt surrounded by people who welcomed me into their family. It was a community of trust, of understanding, and support, and on top of that what truly impressed me was a level of talent and professionalism that I had at that point not come across in other “community theaters.”
Then I got cast in the national tour of Sesame Street Live, which used locals in all towns in addition to the crew that travelled with us, and here I began to meet the strangest cast of characters I’d ever encountered. At this time I also began to date the tour’s Head Carpenter, and he filled me in on his tales of backstage (from his years of doing theater all over the country) that would have my mouth wide open in either laughter or shock or both. One thing I learned: it takes a special breed of human being to want to spend their time huddled in the dark, hopped up on coffee with no sleep, living in a world of pretend. We’re oddballs, aren’t we? No one gets us but “us.”
Ten years after my experience at Sesame Street, I found myself re-telling tales of backstage life at parties. People who don’t do theater loved them. People who did theater related to them. It occurred to me – it’s time to bring these stories – and most importantly, these people – into the limelight. What makes shows like “Waiting for Guffman” and “Slings and Arrows” so funny is because it blows up the inner workings of the theater to those who have no clue what goes on behind the lines. I think people are endlessly fascinated by it. And by us!
With this series I’m also hoping to recapture a sense of “theater family” by inviting the theater community to be a part of our journey. We have asked the Barn Theatre to shoot in their space and they have agreed! We hope to cast locals as background, invite them to help out on set, maybe we’ll even write in a new role or two for an upcoming season! We would love for this to be more than “just another web series” on You Tube, but an extension of what your local theater is like in real life. Hey, maybe it’ll even make you close up your laptop and buy tickets to the community play!
-Jeanette Bonner, Writer/Producer