For our third ambitious project, Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre is bringing our unique brand of inventive environmental theater to the state of Florida.
In January of 2019, artists from across the country will gather in person for the first time in the swamps of the Everglades as Artists-in-Residence in the Everglades National Park where we will create a new musical play that focuses on the environmental issues currently affecting Florida's residents and landscape.
In February, we will pack our costumes, props and set pieces on our bicycles and hit the road: cycling for over 1000 miles and performing our play in 13 cities and towns. Across the state, we’ve partnered with bicycle, arts and environmental organizations to put on performance events and theater workshops with and for local communities.
WHAT’S THE PLAY ABOUT?
Although we won’t really start creating our show until our residency in The Everglades, we do already have a concept. For the first time, we are turning our story premise—a world in which we have run out of fossil fuels, and disposable plastics are all that remain from our current era of waste—into the imagined landscape that we traverse between performances. In this very plausible scenario, we tour on bicycles, not as an environmental statement, but because we have no alternative. Our performance will really be a “show within a show,” alluding to this imagined barren landscape and making our audience members inhabitants of our universe.
WHY DO YOU BIKE?
Biking is fun! Biking is good for the environment, but equally as important, the act of biking is a performance in and of itself. The liminal spaces that make up so much of the American landscape become our stage. For the spectator, our presence disrupts the familiar, often unnoticed landscape. For the performer, the action of cycling deepens awareness of the physical world and heightens sensitivity to the present moment. The act we perform as cyclists is laborious, intentional and made possible by our bodies in motion, not fossil fuels.
In addition, the non-traditional nature of our project brings non-traditional audience members to our shows. Not only do we draw crowds from the local bicycling and environmental communities, but a substantial percentage of our audience members are people we have met along the way—at restaurants and gas stations—who were intrigued by our project. Some travel hundreds of miles to catch a show, inspired by the providence of our meeting.
While Florida bears increasingly violent hurricanes and sea level rise due to climate change, it also has one of the most voracious car cultures and inaccessible cycling infrastructures in the nation. According to a 2016 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, Florida leads the country in cycling deaths, even as its flat, urban and suburban landscape would make for ideal bicycling infrastructure for commuting and recreation. Bringing this work to Florida will bring us face to face with some of the most pressing effects of climate change in a region that is ill-equipped to support non-oil based modes of transportation.
WHERE DOES ALL THE MONEY GO?
Funding from this campaign will go to all our expenses both for the residency and the tour. This includes food for nine participating artists, supplies for costumes, props and set, lighting and sound gear, bicycle maintenance and a host of other expenses that add up. While all artists are donating their time and talent to this project for free, any left over funds will be divided evenly to help pay for travel and gear expenses.
Risks and challenges
Bicycle Touring Theatre! What could go wrong???
Well, lots of things.
But with two projects under our belt, Agile Rascal has learned how to be prepared for anything and everything. That’s why we budget for various emergency provisions, including lots of bike maintenance and even a car rental, in the event of sickness or injury.
In addition, our tours are intended to be strenuous, but not grueling. We give our artists plenty of time to rest and recuperate between rides and shows. We work hard to create our community based on cooperation, compassion and trust so our artists feel safe with one another both on the road and on stage.
Wind, rain and extreme heat haven’t stopped us yet, and we always carry gear to protect us from the elements. We’re just glad we’re not trying to tour Florida during hurricane season.
We partner with local organizations and reach out to local media outlets well before our arrival in each town. This ensures that turn out for our shows is robust and enthusiastic.
While it is sometimes challenging to be dependent on bicycle travel, we can proudly say that we have never missed a show because we couldn’t make our mileage.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)