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Spring Edition
Volume 100, Number 4

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Traveling theatre company provides thrills, skills, and adventure (continued)

Act 4: Casting call

Jesse Baxter

courtesy of Jesse Baxter

Dramatic Adventure Theatre team members interact with members of a rural Ecuadorian community.

Scene 1

Seeing the response of the people in Zimbabwe and the reception the production was receiving from U.S. audiences, Baxter and his team were sure that there was a place in the world for an ongoing theatre company that would do similar projects around the world. And so, Dramatic Adventure Theatre (DAT) was born. In 2008, a team of six actors went to Ecuador for 7 weeks. You can read about that trip on DAT's Web site.

Scene 2

For several months last fall, DAT visited schools around the nation enlisting actors and conducting auditions. The response, Baxter says, was “overwhelming.” Dramatic Adventure Theatre has greatly expand their work as they are sending 12 casts of 8 artists—students and professionals —to Ecuador in May 2009. Each cast will spend 24 days in South America between May 1 and July 14. The actors pay their own expenses, but DAT encourages and supports them in their fundraising efforts. During the project, ACTion: Ecuador, they will gain “a larger perspective of the world and the way that they can contribute to the world.  This experience changes the way they view their craft and the way they view their future in acting.”

Baxter describes the open nature of his expectations for the trip: " For this particular project, we are essentially creating an opportunity for creativity to happen. We provide a blank canvas for our artists to create their masterpieces. We stretch the canvas, gesso it, provide an easel and oils... then finally we hand them the brushes and wish them luck. It can be scary to face the blank canvas, but it's also liberating!"  DAT helps prepare the teams of actors before they leave the U.S. and "after the trip there will be a debriefing and they'll perform the pieces developed during their weeks in Ecuador. "And there will be a reunion pizza party where everyone can share their experiences,"

Baxter says DAT is “the only theatre company that I’ve ever heard of that combines adventurous travel with nonprofit service-oriented work. We make a point to get involved with a local service project. The more lofty impact then is by bringing in the theatre.”  Citing the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, led by playwright Václav Havel, he believes the work they do can “change individuals and change communities. It is possible for theatre to make a significant impact… we could start a young playwright on a path that would change the nation.”  

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by Susan K. Getty '84

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