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What is (up)Staged about?

(up)Staged is an eight-episode mockumentary-style comedy series about the trials and tribulations of a beleaguered independent regional theatre company located in the small and often forgotten Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario. The company, Post Productions, which operates an equally beleaguered black box venue called The Shadowbox Theatre, has agreed in a desperate bid to boost awareness and, Gods willing, ticket sales in the shaky post-COVID economy, to allow a film crew to document what goes on behind the scenes in the world of independent regional theatre, with all of the bizarre characters, absurd situations, determined attempts to create something out of nothing, and everything else that the public doesn’t usually get to see.

The first season centers on the company’s efforts to stage Twoquus, an original and unauthorized and probably unwanted sequel to a classic play they’re too afraid to name. This hilarious series begins with the first production meeting, follows the cast and crew and producers through the audition process, exposes efforts to design and build a set based on little more than a crayon drawing using virtually no resources, reveals shocking details about the love affair between independent regional theatre companies and discarded furniture, revels in the discomfort producers experience when confronted by actors who don’t get cast, delights in the petty and unnecessary rivalries between theatre companies, frolics in the lengths to which theatre companies must go to convince critics to review their plays, makes sport of the determined efforts of costumers to get measurements from uncooperative actors who immediately destroy their costumes, and gently mocks the apexes and nadirs of rehearsal. Will these bafflingly determined artists be able to hold the entire rickety shambles together long enough to make it to opening night?

Why should you care?

Because it’s funny. (up)Staged crams in every kind of comedy one can imagine — from the zany and silly to the whimsical, from slapstick and pratfalls to irony and wit, from situation comedy to sheer absurdism. Yet at its heart, (up)Staged is a character-driven ode to people who devote their lives to something that seems to outsiders like sheer folly, though insiders know that this is really a devotion to the sheer pleasure and satisfaction of creation. Steeped in the awkwardness and cringiness that naturally occurs when objectively odd people who are constantly in over their heads make one mistake after another, (up)Staged is a grounded, human, empathetic story about people who just want to entertain through art – on a shoestring budget. There are no villains here, no grand quests, no clashes between good and evil. Just deeply-flawed people living real lives the only way they know how.

What are we trying to do and why do we care?

Like the characters in (up)Staged we’re artists who want to create something entertaining as well as we know how with the resources available. Unfortunately we live in a region that, although disproportionately packed with artists of all kinds, doesn’t value what artists do and so classifies their work as “leisure”, expects artists to work for free, and doesn’t fund the underlying infrastructure needed to support a viable arts industry in which people can make a living wage. (up)Staged is our attempt to create a project that pays the many artists involved in bringing it to life, a few buckets of water to 50+ artists dying of dehydration in an economic desert. To be clear, as an independent regional theatre company Post Productions pays the artists who work on our theatre productions… just not very well. With (up)Staged we’re hoping to create something that brings a lot of fun to a lot of people while paying artists a more appropriate fee.

The first drafts of the scripts for (up)Staged were written in the summer of 2021, and have been refined and edited many times since as we focused on planning and organizing the project over the past three years. Now we believe it’s time to bring it to life with a cast and crew of gifted, overworked, and underpaid artists from multiple disciplines. That’s what the Kickstarter is for. 55% of the Kickstarter goal will be used to pay the artists (most of the rest pays for taxes and Kickstarter fees).

The production team/crew for (up)Staged was assembled at the beginning of 2024 so we could begin necessary pre-production strategy. The first round of open auditions was held via self tape in March 2024, which resulted in a deluge of auditions that vastly exceeded our expectations. Auditions were reviewed and callback auditions were organized in the first half of April 2024, followed by nine days of in-person callbacks and, finally, casting decisions. We now have a cast and crew largely comprised of experienced and innovative artists, plus several promising newcomers, who are itching to get started! If our Kickstarter campaign is successful, we estimate the project can be completed no later than 31 August 2024. Efficiency in getting the finished episodes to the public will be aided by our flexible and multi-disciplinary production team, who will be editing and otherwise completing much of the post-production work while we are still filming.