The Oklahoma City theatre community is constantly changing. It shrinks, then grows and sometimes changes shape completely. OKC theatre patrons can add a new company to their lists. Next Stage opens their second production this weekend, and it does not seem they are looking to slow down.
When founding members Rebecca McCauley, Todd Clark and Rodney Brazil first began talking about what would eventually become Next Stage, they knew exactly what their hopes for the company were.
“We had a lot of conversations early on about not duplicating something that someone else was doing here,” said Brazil. “What’s the point of doing something that’s exactly like something another theatre company is already doing? That’s why we started talking about trying to find new scripts.”
The trio said they agreed they wanted to set their company apart from others in the Oklahoma City Metro by only accepting new, original plays. To be more specific, they wanted scripts by Oklahoma writers, according to Clark. In the beginning, looking for only new scripts proved to be a small challenge for the young company, but they hope to create an environment to foster a growth in creative writing.
“We’ve slowly gotten a few submissions, not many at this point, but we hope for the future to have a lot more,” Clark said. “I’d like to inspire people who didn’t think they could write before to write.”
One way the group has overcome a limited selection is by writing their first two productions on their own or as a collaboration combining the talents of others in Oklahoma City.
Next Stage’s first original script made it’s world premiere in February of this year. Fresh Meet was a collaboration of several Oklahoma writers including Next Stage’s own Rodney Brazil and Rebecca McCauley. They were joined by Lisa Lasky, Robert Matson, Holly McNatt and Pete Young, a group with a history in the Oklahoma City theatre community.
Hopefully, they will not have a shortage of submissions for long. The company also decided to expand their reach beyond theatre. Since they do not have a space of their own, they all agree that they have a kind of freedom to take on a variety of projects. McCauley said Next Stage is not placing a limit on what they can and can not do.
“It doesn’t even have to be a play,” said McCauley. “We are experimenting with music [in the next production]. Maybe we know a great choreographer, can we do a dance piece? Let’s see what happens. Between the three of us, we know a lot of engaging and talented people. Maybe we can find a way to work with them.”
Brazil added that they are more of a production company. He said they are open to doing anything that needs creative development to become a production including video production or a Web series, as long as it’s new and an original work.
Everyone in the group seems to agree that without the limitations of many other theatre companies (overhead, space limitations, etc.) they have the ability to accept any project they want. Without a set season, they also have the time to workshop and develop a script as much as it needs.
“If we get a show that needs to be set in the back of a pickup truck, we’ll do it,” Clark said with a laugh. “We kept it very open. If there needed to be a show on a patio, we could do it…or improv in a parking lot. It’s about the show.”
Another unique aspect of Next Stage is they (along with a steadily growing number in arts communities around the world) use Kickstarter as a funding platform for their projects. On Kickstarter, individuals can donate small or large amounts of money to projects they deem worthy of their hard-earned cash. If the project doesn’t reach a preset goal by a certain date, then no money is donated. Next Stage’s last production successfully reached their goal. For the record, as of the publishing of this article, their current project is still $140 short of the Kickstarter goal with 15 days left. For information on how you can donate, visit the website at the bottom of this article.
Tonight, Next Stage opens their second world premiere. Danny These Days is an original rock musical with music and lyrics by local musician Jacob Becannen and book by Rebecca McCauley. The script was written around an existing, unreleased album of Becannen’s called East Drive. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays from June 8th-23rd at The Boom. For tickets to the show and more information about Next Stage, visit whatisthenextstage.com or call 405-367-3774.
Also, keep an eye out for this writer’s review of Danny These Days next Thursday.