The Bricolage Interview

Published On March 28, 2013 | By Sweet1Lani | Giveaways, Interviews

1604924_10101836068765413_1047333451_nWe are big fans of Bricolage Theater, and we aren’t the only ones. They consistently put out innovative and powerful theater, like STRATA and their Midnight Radio shows. So it’s no surprise they add an exciting twist to their annual fundraiser Bricolage Urban Scrawl, or B.U.S., which is in its 8th year. We had the chance to interview Tami Dixon, Producing Artistic Director and Jeffery Carpenter, Artistic Director about B.U.S. and all things Bricolage. We also snagged tickets to the event for two lucky readers!

Laney Boggs: We know by now to expect the unexpected from Bricolage for innovative programming, tell us what inspired such a unique concept for your annual fundraiser. Is it based on the meaning of Bricolage?

Tami Dixon: In 2003 I was living in NYC working as an actor and was asked to be a part of an event at The Atlantic Theatre called the “24 Hour Plays”, put on by the group The 24 Hour Play Company. I had the most incredible time and found the experience to incorporate everything I love about theatre: It was thrilling, it was dangerous, it was an adventure. When I met Jeffrey and started working for Bricolage in 2005, I suggested a similar event to help raise money, connect with artists, and build a community.
At the same time Jeffrey was reading about a company in Ireland that challenged playwrights to write a play on a train as they traveled across Ireland. Starting with blank pages at the beginning of the journey and completing a draft by the time the train came to a stop. We loved both of these ideas and thought combining them would create something new. Every great city has a working, efficient and reliable public transportation system. Pittsburgh buses are full of characters, stories, and drama. All things you need to develop a play.

Jeffrey Carpenter: Of course, as a small non-profit theater company, we needed an annual fundraiser. But we wanted to take the idea of a fundraiser a step further, to a level that represented what we do at Bricolage: adventurous and immersive theater. And, of course, nothing we do is conventional! B.U.S. is designed to celebrate the art of theater, to challenge our local artists, and to thrill our loyal audience. It gives a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into what it takes to create art. Everything that happens in a normal play process happens here, only hyper-condensed into just 24 hours. It’s magical, and it’s our favorite night of the year.

LB: With a decade under your belt now, how has Bricolage evolved over the years into the award-winning company that it is today?

TD: Very deliberately. We always try to work within our means, and to do a lot with what we have. We’ve grown at a snail’s pace so that we can register and process all of our successes and failures. We put the audience first and respect our artists. We live, sleep, eat, and breathe theatre. Even our dog, Odie, comes to work with us every day. He greets the patrons and sometimes makes a surprise appearance on stage. We’re storytellers and we are always looking for ways to deconstruct that process, to look at it from different angles, to risk failure for greatness. We allow the process to dictate the outcome. Our vision is holistic and malleable.

JC: After each production, we take our own inventory to see what works and what doesn’t. Midnight Radio, for example, has been around for five years. But it’s not the same show that you would’ve seen back then. It’s definitely a fan-favorite so we knew we wanted to keep it around, but with each episode, it gets better. In recent years, we’ve toyed with a Midnight Radio for kids. Two summers ago we tested it with a one-time production. It was so successful that we brought it back for two productions. This year, Midnight Radio, Jr. is going to be a three-episode season, just like the adult version. As our audience evolves, we want to continue to be relevant. Offering family-oriented programs is just one way we are growing with our patrons.

LB: If you were writing your own 10 minute impromptu play, what Pittsburgh landmarks would inspire you?
TD: Mr. Rogers, The Monongahela and The Carrie Furnace.
JC: Kennywood, slag heaps and Duck Hollow, Braddock, the bridges in Schenley Park.

LB: What are you personally looking forward to the most from the upcoming Bricolage season?
TD: Foley workshops with Midnight Radio Jr., our audience members, and War of the Worlds!!!
JC: In the Raw Festival, American Songbook, War of the Worlds, and the dialogue that happens during Fifth Wall programs

B.U.S. 8 goes down on April 5th and 6th at the New Hazlett Theater. You can purchase tickets here, or take a shot at our giveaway. We have a pair of tickets for the Saturday, April 6 Mini B.U.S package for not one, but two lucky winners! Follow the the directions below to enter, and we’ll pick a winner April 3rd.

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