About this project
“We are often told that political theatre is one-sided, partial and unfair. But I recommend the skeptics to take a look at Fraser Grace's compelling 90-minute play.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE, by author Fraser Grace, is an acclaimed play about Zimbabwe’s despotic President Robert Mugabe. It will have 35 performances in a limited run at the Pershing Square Signature Center from August 11-October 6.
We come to Kickstarter to raise awareness, make new friends and find donors. WE MUST RAISE $15,000 through Kickstarter. IF WE EXCEED $15,000, the additional funds will help us reach $30,000, the total amount we need to raise before we start rehearsals.
*ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE to the extent permitted by law, except for value of goods and services received.
About the Play:
Fraser Grace’s BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and directed by Sir Anthony Sher. The production transferred to the West End, winning the highly prestigious John Whiting Award. The play is inspired by accounts that Robert Mugabe, depressed and convinced he was haunted by the ghost of a slain rival, sought psychiatric treatment from a white doctor. Fraser’s imagining of those sessions is the springboard for a drama of Shakespearean scope that examines the plight of a country in crisis and the corrosive effects of power.
The play is suspenseful, thought provoking, suddenly violent, and brief. It poses the question not only of whether blacks and their former colonial oppressors can live together in Africa, but whether modern ideas can prevail over ancient beliefs. The portrayal of Mugabe gives us a nuanced understanding of what makes an oppressed man become an oppressor. As we watch citizens of countries around the world struggle under dictatorships, this play resonates strongly.
BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE has only been seen twice in the US and never in New York.
About this production:
As a company we first performed this play at New Jersey's Centenary Stage Company. It was so well received that we decided to bring it to New York. The brand new Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd Street is the go-to place for compelling contemporary drama in New York. It's home to such playwrights as Edward Albee, Katori Hall, Sam Shepard, and Athol Fugard. A state of the art venue, it's where this play belongs. We will be playing in rep with another fine new play, FINAL ANALYSIS, by Otho Eskin.
While we insist that production values are high to show this work off to its best advantage, our artists are doing this as a labor of love: love for the transformative power of live theater, and belief that staging a play like this one can make a difference. They are working for scale to bring the production to the stage.
Our website is full of information about the team we’re putting together and the play’s successful history of production. There’s also an excerpt from the script.
Wondering What It Will Cost to Produce The Play Off-Broadway? Producing theater in New York is an expensive proposition, and our production is budgeted at $200,000. To finance this endeavor we’ve already raised $60,000 in tax-deductible donations. Raising that amount gave us the courage to take the leap and rent the Signature theater. But before rehearsals begin we still need to raise more money. Our goal is to bring in $30,000 more in donations. Our remaining income will come from ticket sales.
Here are a few line items. It adds up quickly!
Theater Rental: $57,500
Actor salaries: $16,040
General Manager: $7,500
Scenery and Props: $5,500
Accounting/Payroll Service: $2,950
Production Manager: $1,500
In addition to the production, we’re planning events to augment our audience’s understanding of Zimbabwe and the political situation there. I’ve asked Peter Godwin, the noted Zimbabwean author of When a Crocodile Eats The Sun and president of PEN America, to join us for an evening devoted to the play and to his writing. We’re also organizing a discussion focusing on the issues of treating mental illness in African countries.
Here’s what critics said about our Centenary Stage Company production:
“Imagine a modern-day Macbeth, haunted by the ghost of Banquo, attempting to sort out his blood-stained fears with the help of a therapist…Breakfast With Mugabe … tautly depicts a struggle of wills between the African ruler and Dr. Andrew Peric, a white Zimbabwean psychiatrist summoned to the presidential palace.” Michael Sommers, New York Times
“The intimate space has been filled with armless chairs. At Friday night’s opening, many a theatergoer was on the edge of his.” Peter Filichia, Newark Star Ledger
“Breakfast with Mugabe is a dense, fascinating exploration of the roots and reality of the lingering human and political disaster that is Zimbabwe.” Bob Rendell, Talkin’ Broadway
I'd also like to mention that Oskar Eustis of the Public Theater wrote this to me in a letter about the play: “It’s a strong piece and I can see why you are so passionate about it. The subjects of Zimbabwe and Mugabe are rich with dramatic potential and this script does service to both.”
Recently I attended a talk on Zimbabwe at the Open Society Foundation. Afterwards I was enthusiastically embraced by the speaker, noted Zimbabwean author, lawyer and activist Petina Gappah. “Let me hug the man who wrote BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE” she exclaimed. I told her I was not the author, but accepted the hug on Fraser’s behalf. It was an affirmation that this play has great currency. BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE is not about a long dead tyrant, it’s about a despot who’s alive and very much in power. I believe this, along with the excellence of Fraser’s writing, is what makes this play so distinctive.
I hope this is of interest. Thank you for showing faith in our effort to bring this meaningful play to a new audience.
HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS -
To make a pledge to BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE, click the green “Back This Project” button, enter your pledge amount and select a reward. You will be directed through checkout on Amazon. Your card will be charged ONLY when BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE reaches its funding goal. If we do not reach our funding goal, your card will not be charged. We keep everything we raise as long as we achieve the goal amount. If we fall short none of your pledges will be charged. So please join us! Contribute what you can! Spread the word about this project!
CAN YOU DONATE OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES?
Yes. Kickstarter is international. Just click on the Amazon Payment Button and you will see that you can pay with a credit card from any country.
CAN YOU INCREASE YOUR PLEDGE ONCE IT'S BEEN MADE?
Yes! Once you donate to our campaign, you may want to change your incentive reward to a different one, or increase your pledge amount. To do so, go to Kickstarter and sign in. If you go to our campaign page, the green “Back This Project” button has been replaced with a blue “Manage Your Donation” button. Click it and you can enter a new amount, or choose a new incentive.
Risks and challenges
There are no guarantees with producing theater. A few things can tip the scales one way or another: a good review can mean a lot, but as an upstart company we have less control than established companies do over when press will come. So we need to do what we can to get the word out to build an audience. That means a vigorous marketing campaign, which is expensive.
Also, we open our production in August. The upside is that we have less competition for coverage in the press. The downside is that many people are out of town. We need to keep our production running through September to make sure that as many people as possible can see BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE.
Remember, raising $30,000 before rehearsals begin doesn’t cover our overall expenses. Our total budget is $200,000. What raising $30,000 means is that to break even we'll still need to sell $110,000 in tickets. So we have a ways to go before we know how things will come out.
But what is uncertain is also what's fun about this venture. I’m optimistic. I believe there is an audience for this play, and that it resonates across cultures and ethnicities. Given the right setting—a first rate theater, a strong production of the play, and a concerted effort to get the word out, I believe we'll have success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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