What is Café Variations?
Café Variations is a dance/theater/music piece created by SITI Company and Anne Bogart with text by Charles L. Mee and music by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin.
Development of Café Variations began in June 2011 at Skidmore College as part of our Intensive Summer Training Program. With the initial phase of research and development completed, SITI Company launched a two-week Creative Lab period in December 2011 in New York City, to further progress the ideas initially manifested. The Company used this period to dive deep into the world of George and Ira Gershwin, café culture, sociologist Erving Goffman, and John Paul Sartre.
Then, in the spring of 2012 the SITI Company artists were ready to revisit the café world and headed to Emerson College in Boston where they embarked on a 7 week residency. It was here, at the Magestic theater at ArtsEmerson, that the fully realized production had its premiere performances in April 2012. This initial version of Café Variations included SITI Company actors together with BFA students from the Emerson Theater and Musical Theater Departments. In total 30 theater artists were onstage singing, dancing, and creating a truly moving piece of dance/theater/music next to a 10 piece orchestra. The Boston Globe wrote, “It’s nothing if not ambitious. Bogart and actors from her New York-based SITI Company trained 22 Emerson College performing arts students, who share the stage with the pros. They’ve done their teaching job well, as the young actors are polished and slick.”
So why do a Kickstarter Campaign?
Because the initial work was for all intensive purposes too large to reasonably tour SITI Company is currently creating a tourable version of Café Variations. The second iteration of Café Variations intends to pare back the original production to produce a compact, low budget, yet high-quality, six person touring version which retains the artistic integrity of the larger production. This step is pivotal to making the elasticity, tour-ability and viral nature of the work a reality and the process is essentially like creating a new play. There are many changes to the script, new characters that have been created, live music must be removed and replaced with recorded music and set pieces must be redesigned to be lightweight, compact and easily transportable.
Anne had always envisioned this work as something that had several iterations so that it could have three or four different lives. The intention is to be able to offer distinct versions of Café Variations to regional theaters, arts and community centers, universities and festivals.
The University of Maryland Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center has offered to provide a residency period from September 10-21, 2012 for SITI Company to rehearse this new iteration and do a showing of the work that is accomplished. Then from the residency in Maryland, our artists head back to New York City to teach the five-week fall training workshop in October and further refine the play in our studio. Finally, they fly off again to Illinois in November to give this iteration its premiere at the Krannert Center.
All of the work necessary to create this new iteration requires a great amount of energy, artistic time, and money — much of which we’ve raised, but not all of it.
What are you funding?
There are unexpected costs like paying the actors for much needed additional rehearsal time, which for a week averages around $7,500.
There are unavoidable costs like transporting, housing and feeding the actors and design team when they work outside of the city, which for example averages to be around $22,000 for the two weeks in Maryland.
Lastly there are just plain un-fun costs like $2,000 for shipping freight to get the set pieces where they need to go. But really… what’s a café without tables and chairs?
While SITI Company does receive grants and commissions these funding sources rarely provide us with all of the money needed to create a play and in this instance we need to raise another $10,000 to finish this creative process. We want YOU to become a mini-investor in this SITI Company production and we encourage you to give whatever you have, $20, $50, or $100.
And please remember that donors at all levels are vital to an arts organization’s sustainability. At the end of the day those $10 gifts add up and become as important as the $10,000 grants and the $50,000 commissions.
How can you help?
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