The Twin Cities is second only to New York City in live theater per capita and is the third-largest theater market in the U.S. For smaller and newer theatres it is easy to get lost in the long list of theatre options patrons have. This is something 7th House Theater Collective, a new Twin Cities theatre company is hoping to avoid. Founded by a young group of professional theater artists the collective is dedicated to offering low-cost, high quality musical theatre to the Twin Cities. HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical will be the collective’s first production.
In December 2012 the idea to stage a production of HAIR was brought to Darrow, fellow cast member Cat Brindisi and others. “This idea was long before we even thought of forming 7th House Theater Collective” recounted Darrow. The themes of HAIR – war, environmentalism, drug use and oppression are just as relevant today as they were when the show was originally produced by New York City’s Public Theater in 1967. As Darrow pointed out “we don’t have the military draft anymore, but we still have military action that many don’t agree with, especially the younger generation. We’re still seeing oppression. We still have a whole generation that feels disconnected from their government.”
As you can imagine mounting a theatrical production is expensive and being a new company with limited funds, 7th House Theater Collective took to the crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise the needed funds. Coupled with a strong social media campaign through Facebook and Twitter, HAIR was successfully funded. In fact, they were able to raise six percent more than their original goal. The production team and cast are overwhelmed by the support they’ve received, “What was raised through Kickstarter is our budget. Our goal was to get as close to $7,800 as we could. The fact that we were able to raise more than that is amazing” said cast member David Darrow. Aside from using Kickstarter, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about funding the production, the social media platforms are the sole marketing campaign for the show. Based on available tickets for the limited run, the word-of-mouth marketing campaign is a hit…opening night on June 21 is sold out.
Not only is HAIR crowd-funded, but thanks to the mission of 7th House Theater Collective, ‘to strip our productions down to their basic necessities, with the relationship between performers and audience at the center of our process’, the entire production is staged with the intention of building a connection between the audience and actors. To accomplish this the set design has been scaled back and there will be a lot of interaction between the actors and audience members in the aisles. “This show is about removing the glossy image musical theatre tends to have, by expanding on the relationship that exists between actors and the audience” according to Darrow.
HAIR opens on June 21 at 514 Studios in Minneapolis for a limited run of eight shows. Tickets can be reserved for free through Brown Paper Tickets. All performances are being presented under the Members Project Code of the Actors Equity Association and are pay what you can. More information about 7th House Theater Collective can be found on their Facebook page.
Photo Credit: 7th House Theater Collective