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Dedicated to making Seattle a destination for new work by increasing accessibility and developing renewable sources of revenue.
Dedicated to making Seattle a destination for new work by increasing accessibility and developing renewable sources of revenue.
Dedicated to making Seattle a destination for new work by increasing accessibility and developing renewable sources of revenue.
251 backers pledged $21,356 to help bring this project to life.

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Launching Umbrella Project

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Launching Umbrella Project – Moving New Plays Forward

Umbrella Project is on a mission to further the life of new plays made in Seattle. By inviting new audiences to experience original theatre and by strengthening the Seattle theatre community’s voice in the national conversation around new work, Umbrella Project will make Seattle a destination for new plays.

What Is Umbrella Project?

Umbrella Project is not quite an agency or a production company. We aren't a traditional theatre company or an ensemble. Umbrella Project is something new. Operating at the intersection of theatrical work and technological innovations, Umbrella Project is in the business of increasing accessibility to art, community, and live events.

By advocating for our playwrights, insisting on high-quality productions, and increasing accessibility through technological platforms, we are creating a springboard for new work in Seattle to forge a pathway to the national conversation.

Co-founders Gavin Reub, Norah Elges, & Erin Bednarz
Co-founders Gavin Reub, Norah Elges, & Erin Bednarz

Knocking Bird and More

As a group of dramaturgically minded producers, we have the skills not only to think critically about individual projects, but also the network to bring our community in Seattle - and on a national level - together in support of new plays.

We are already in rehearsal for our first project, co-producing the World Premiere of Emily Conbere's play Knocking Bird directed by Paul Budraitis and opening September 11, 2015 at West of Lenin. Utilizing our network, we are actively seeking a second production for this new work outside of Seattle. 

We have two new plays in early development, one by Benjamin Benne and one by Brendan Healy, for which we will be bringing in other organizations and artists as co-producers to better share, rather than compete, for resources.

We are continuing to build our network of dedicated artists locally and expand our personal relationships with theatres across the country. As we see the Seattle tech start-up scene filled with other creative artists of a different medium, we intend to develop relationships that bring together these frequently disparate communities.

Our next major project will be raising investments for the development of our mobile app; stage three of our accessibility plan. This will cost at minimum $150,000 and will provide a single touch point for all new work in the Seattle area. Ultimately, this app will be scalable to other cities and be a curated experience to find plays that are relevant and exciting to their respective environments.

Increasing the Accessibility of Original Live Performances

Where do you look for information about what to do with your weekend? At Umbrella Project, we believe that the dozens of new plays happening in Seattle each week are passing people by because they simply don’t know about them.

Original theatre is some of the most entertaining artistic work out there. The people who make theatre have known this all along, but do other creatives and professionals? Over the course of the three phases, we will implement a plan to get the word out about new plays in Seattle.

Phase 1: New Play Calendar

Coming Autumn 2015

Our New Play Calendar will list all new work readings, workshop showings, performances, and events that are happening across our network – brought to you by our Network Liaisons.

Phase 2: New Play Pass

Our New Play Pass is a flexible subscription model that allows you to sample new work in Seattle from across our local network.  On a monthly basis, you'll be able to buy two- or four-play packages which will provide curated suggestions and also offer exclusive invitations to readings and showings as well as discounts at local businesses.

Phase 3: New Play App

Our New Play App will provide you access to what's playing across our network with the same ease and convenience of choosing a movie. Learn more about the production, buy tickets, watch trailers, see which of your friends are going, and much, more! 

Reimagining the New Play Path

Umbrella Project is reimagining how new plays are produced and funded. Revenue from New Play Calendar, Pass, and App will support the fiscal needs of new work, including paying artists, renting rehearsal space, and more. By infusing the new play development community with additional capital, we will elevate our theatrical and cultural eco-system and encourage artists to live and work in Seattle.

Umbrella Project will also clear a path for the continued life of a new play. There are two moments in the history of a new play that are traditionally sticky: the staged reading phase and after the world premiere. Umbrella Project will work with the partners in our network to move projects beyond each of these trouble spots in Seattle and nationally.

New Play Reading Purgatory

A staged reading is an engaging and relatively inexpensive way for theatres to support new plays. Playwrights learn more about their plays as they work on revisions and audiences get a sneak peak of the full production to come. Only, often, the full production never comes to fruition, not for lack of interest, but for lack of resources. Umbrella Project will partner with theatre organizations that produce staged readings to move the plays they’ve read and loved on to a full production, eliminating the fear that a play might dwell or dwindle in an endless development purgatory.

World Premier-itis

“When it comes to new play production, an emphasis on premieres—by artistic directors, the press, boards of directors and funders—is the operating principle. This ‘premiere-itis’ means that plays rarely get the continued life they need to reach the kind of artistic completion that results from second and third productions. It also means that playwrights can't earn from their plays in an ongoing way.”   -- TDF’s Press Release Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play by Todd London, Ben Pesner, Zannie Giraud Voss

Umbrella Project is built to connect new work to the national conversation. As a world premiere is moving into rehearsal, UP is able to come to the table as co-producer to begin finding the next theatre outside of Seattle that would be the best fit for the continued life of the play.  Umbrella Project will further the life of new play by pursuing sister productions, new play swaps, and more in order to send work created in Seattle into other theatres across the country.

We Are Listening

The success of Umbrella Project will depend on the support of both the community making theatre and the community seeking theatre. Umbrella Project is based on the real needs that we have identified in the community. We have consulted with playwrights, lawyers, directors, tech entrepreneurs, dramaturgs, literary managers, actors, and more to get a complete picture of the problems with developing new plays in Seattle. If you have something to add, reach out to us here

The video above highlights just a few of the members of our community who were generous enough to sit down and speak with us about the current challenges and benefits of making new work in Seattle.

THANK YOU.

Thank you to the amazing supporters featured in this first video; Paul Budraitis (director, Knocking Bird), Josh Beerman (playwright), Allison Gregory (playwright), Elizabeth Heffron (playwright), and Darragh Kennan (artistic director, New Century Theatre Company).

Over the course of the campaign, we'll be sharing more of these interviews with you including videos and blog posts from advisory board members Liz Engelman, Caitlin Sullivan, Bob Thordarson, and Gina Davito; playwrights Emily Conbere, Benjamin Benne, and Amy Wheeler; and literary director and dramaturg, Kristin Leahey. To all of our mentors and advisors—thank you.

Special thanks to Mighty Tripod Productions and Tony Tibbetts for the filming, editing, and production of this video.

Special thanks to the people and organizations who made this video possible: Kristin Leahey, Jeff Herrmann, and Matt Giles at Seattle Repertory Theatre; Anita Montgomery at ACT Theatre; The Masonry; Aspira Apartments; Jessica Grant; Shane Regan; and The Seagull Project

Risks and challenges

As a group of dramaturgically minded producers, we have the skills not only think critically about individual projects, but have the network and the relationships to bring our community in Seattle and on a national level, together in support of new plays. We are looking at building renewable ways to fund the life of new work that is created and developed in Seattle, to match make the resources, and to present the work in a way that is accessible and brings in new audiences.

We are already in rehearsal for our first project, co-producing the World Premiere of Emily Conbere's play Knocking Bird directed by Paul Budraitis and opening September 11, 2015 at West of Lenin. Utilizing our network, we are currently seeking a second production for this new work outside of Seattle.

We have two new plays in early development, one by Benjamin Benne and one by Brendan Healy, for which we will be bringing in other organizations and artists as co-producers to better share, rather than compete, for resources.

We are continuing to build our network of dedicated artists locally and expand our personal relationships with theatres across the country. As we see the Seattle tech start-up scene as filled with other creative artists with a different medium, we intend to develop relationships that bring together these frequently separate communities.

Our next major project will be raising investments for the development of our mobile app, stage three of our accessibility plan. This will cost at minimum $150,000 and will provide a single touch point for all new work in the Seattle area. Ultimately, this app will be scalable to other cities and be a curated experience to find plays that are relevant and exciting.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    New Play Megaphone

    Thank you SO much for choosing to be part of our network. Your gift is a vote in support of the continued development of new plays. Get ready for a flurry of social media love to thank you for your generosity!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    New Play Enthusiast

    Social media shout outs abound, plus a limited edition Umbrella Project sticker (designed by Affiliate Artist Ryan Dunn) and a custom thank you note from our Communications Director, Sara Keats.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    New Play Supporter

    All of the above, plus a limited edition Umbrella Project writing implement. Perfect for writing plays or to-do lists or plans for world domination.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Associate Producer of Knocking Bird

    All of the above, plus a poster from our World Premiere of Emily Conbere's play Knocking Bird (designed by Ryan Dunn) signed by the cast and creative team. We'll also thank you in the program for Knocking Bird, running September 11-October 3 at West of Lenin.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    New Play Advocate

    All of the above, plus a Two-Hour Storytelling Consultation session. Working on launching a new product? Want to make sure all of your branding elements tell the same story? Wrote a new play and would love some dramaturgy? Executive Director Norah Elges or Communications Director Sara Keats will provide expert feedback, ask helpful questions, and be a sounding board so that you can tell the best version of your story.

    Bonus! You'll also receive an invitation to an upcoming developmental reading, which will not be open to the public.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    New Play Warrior

    All of the above, plus two tickets to the World Premiere of Emily Conbere's play Knocking Bird at West of Lenin, September 11-October 3.

    Bonus! You'll also receive an invitation to the first rehearsal of our next project, including a meet and greet with the cast and creative team.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    New Play Hero

    Exclusive Access: All of the above, plus you'll be the first to receive a ticket to our launch party (Spring 2015, exact date TBD) and beta access to our New Play Pass and the first edition of our New Play Mobile App.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    New Play Champion

    All of the above, plus a gourmet three-course meal prepared by and enjoyed with Umbrella Project's founders. Featuring chef Gavin Reub, renowned baker Norah Elges, and mixologist Erin Bednarz.

    Please note: This reward is redeemable in the Greater Seattle Area only. If you're not in Seattle but are interested in giving at this level, send us an email with your ideas for a fitting reward!

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Funding period

- (30 days)