Bartley Stratton, OnStage Columnist
A few years ago I was introduced to a local theater company in Minnesota; who put on productions in their backyard. They were called Bunce Backyard Productions. I organized a group to see their rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.
The company was formed by the Bunce family. "We started this Bunce Backyard adventure in 2007 for several reasons," they state on their website. "We wanted to perform together as a family in a show of our choosing (and be able to schedule rehearsals around other activities, like baseball practice); we wanted to create community by inviting friends and neighbors — both experienced and new performers — to join us; and we wanted to “give back” by encouraging audience members to make donations to charitable organizations (rather than pay admission to the show). And in all things we want to honor God by our hard work and loving attitudes, bringing glory to Him through good stories and performances."
When we arrived at the house, we were surprised to see hundreds of people filing in. The audience sat either on blankets in the grass or brought lawn chairs. The band was situated to the side of the stage in a fenced in porch. The actors used a small stage as well as the back of the garage to climb on. There were snacks for sale and people packed food as well.
I'm already a huge fan of the musical itself but that night was one to remember. The cast was close up and personal with the audience. They wore all the colors of the rainbow and decided to assign three girls to play the narrators. The portrayal of the story both simple and profound. The best part however, were people creating theater in an environment that was original, interesting and memorable.
Where are some interesting places you've watched theatre?
For more info on Bunce Backyard Productions and their fundraiser coming up on Feb 25, check out: www.buncebackyard.com