In this segment of Wyo4News’ “5 Questions With…” we interviewed Brad Russell, the current treasurer of the local theater group the Actors’ Mission. We discussed what the Actros’ Mission has been up to lately and how community members can get involved.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Actors’ Mission, can you explain to us what the organization is about?
The Actors’ Mission has a 15-year history in the community. It has been in existence since 2002, and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2008. Besides providing a full season of performances to an estimated 10,000 attendees over these years, the theatre has presented over 56 productions and the opportunity for over 300 people to perform as actors, directors, set design and construction, lighting design, etc. The company provides workshops by nationally acclaimed artists in their field of expertise.
It was based on the idea of the WPA (Works Project Administration) from 1935 instituted by Presidential executive order of Franklin D. Roosevelt which additionally employed 40,000 artists and other cultural workers to produce music and theater, sculptures, murals and paintings. Keeping this in mind we continue to provide our shows and a meal free of charge, with our motto being “Feed the Body—Nourish the Mind”. We are the only theatre of our kind in the state of Wyoming.
How long have you been involved with the Actors’ Mission?
I have personally been involved with the Actors’ Mission since it’s very first production of “Waiting for Lefty” when we were located in a tiny storefront on Pilot Butte. Since then I have been involved in one way or another in either acting, directing, set design, lighting design, and graphics for a majority of the productions and am currently treasurer on the board.
Can you tell us about any upcoming shows?
Our next show, “An Appeal to the Woman of the House” is by a wonderful playwright out of New York, Christie Perfetti-Williams. It is timely and moving new script set in 1961, Alabama on the Tennessee border about the plight of a small group of Freedom Riders, and we are hoping to have a great showing at the auditions this month–there are several terrific, specifically African-American roles in this production. It will be opening the last day of November and play the first two weeks of December.
We will be rounding out our season with “Dog Sees God” an adult parody of the not-so-thinly veiled “Peanuts” crowd with modern issues.
And the last show of the season will be Clare Boothe Luce’s “The Women” and we will be needing around 35 women for this classic and it should be immensely entertaining.
How can people get involved with the Actors’ Mission?
The simplest answer is “show up”. Come to an audition, message us on our facebook page, attend a production, just introduce yourself. There is never a shortage of work to do in a non-profit theatre, and if not onstage, there are a million other things that go into bringing a show to opening!
The Actors’ Mission has a new building that’s currently being renovated. Can you give us a progress update?
Our project on South Main is underway, the “Raise the Roof” funding drive is complete and the new roof is being put on as this is written. Our next project to begin fundraising for is “Make it Rain”. We need to install a sprinkler system in the entire building (all three floors) to be compliant with an arena space in the state. The building has been tested for asbestos and we are good to go, so our Architect at PlanOne has finished the plans and they are currently under review by the city. So much goes into just converting this space into a theatre, but we are resolute and understand it will take time, and lots more money. We are doing a huge Mardi Gras Fundraiser in February at the Holiday Inn with music and masks, food and fun as well as our now annual Chili and Cider at the Christmas parade, but our Executive Producers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to raise money for our building fund. It is important for our corner of the state to have something like this that we all can be proud of and promote as part of our historic downtown.