This week, Muddy Water Theatre Project opens Three Act Play. The vaudeville-esque show is comprised of three comedies. Yes, you read that correctly. Three Act Play is a misnomer on purpose. Muddy Water is setting out to turn their audience's perspective of traditional theatre upside down.
Three Act Play is a single production, with three separate shows, each featuring a different cast. The vaudeville-esque formula is an intentional nod to a vibrant era of our nation's history when, in the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his administration within the New Deal made an investment in American theatre that forever changed the way communities experienced the medium. (For more information, dig deeper here.)
The end of the 1930s was a time of rebirth and restoration of morale in the aftermath of The Great Depression. Muddy Water's producers believe this time in our nation's history set the foundation for theatre to thrive in communities in ways we are still experiencing today. They believe this strongly enough to program an entire production around that belief - and that production is Three Act Play.
To achieve their goal of reminding their audience of the power of community in our nation, Muddy Water's team is completely transforming Pop Uptown into a 1930s speakeasy complete with a bar, art gallery, and performance venue. Guests will enter through the back entrance of Pop Uptown with a password - not a ticket. Muddy Water isn't selling walk-up tickets to this particular production.
"We want the entire experience to be intimate," said Redding. "It's all about the communal aspect of theatre. We want audience members to be mindful of the fact that they're surrounded by people who made a commitment to be there. Each evening, our audience will be made up of a collection of individuals from the community who have dedicated an evening to simply being together.
The production team is even going so far as to arrange the seating in the house differently every night depending on the number of people attending. Separate passwords will be assigned to each show, so that no two shows are exactly the same from the moment guests cross the threshold.
Redding said the Muddy Water team hopes people will arrive early. "We want our guests to come and enjoy some time together before the show. Each person who's purchased a ticket and made a reservation will get an email the day of the show with a password. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. We'll be there ready to greet them, and encourage them to interact with other members of the community who are in attendance that evening. The bar will be open before each show and during intermissions, and we hope the conversation is fluid all evening before and after the shows."
Each show is around 20-30 minutes with lengthy intermissions designed for guests to be able to grab a drink, chat about the show, and enjoy the speakeasy. Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, certain amenities will be offered that Muddy Water's team is sure will only add to the communal vibe of the show. VIPs will receive comfortable seating at a prime location in the house, as well as wait service, a complimentary beverage, and some Muddy Water swag.
"We want everyone to get to know each other and really have an opportunity to converse," said Redding. "It's a speakeasy environment by choice. In the 1930s, not as many things were vying for people's attention. No television, Netflix, social media, etc. We want to transport people back to a time when community was viewed as essential. When intentional interaction was considered a vital part of daily life. When our nation conversed as a whole, and as individuals."
Muddy Water has set up the tickets and amenities to include all different types of experiences, and hopes that offering multiple ticket options will encourage a more diverse audience each night in the house. In addition, the comedies selected should offer some really interesting conversation starters between shows. "Our cast and crew can't wait to hear the audience's thoughts each evening," said Redding. "We have all said to one another that we can't wait to hear them discuss what they've seen and how it made them feel."
It's important to know that everything isn't designed for the VIP crowd. Redding and his team have made sure that everyone who wants to see the show can find a way to do so. "We understand that everyone simply cannot afford or would choose to pay for a VIP ticket that costs $100. Trust me, we get it! So while we are offering that type of experience for those who desire it, we believe wholeheartedly that theatre should be affordable for everyone. We've done our best to offer everything from a $10 ticket to simply see the production, all the way up to a complete VIP experience."
Photo courtesy of Muddy Water Theatre Project.
To add to the emphasis on community, the backdrop for the show is comprised of 30s era themed advertising for all of Muddy Water's supporters and partners. "We really wanted to emphasize the organizations that have come alongside of us in the community," Redding explained. "These are local businesses saying, 'The arts matter to us, and we'll support your work so the public can see it.' That is a really beautiful thing, and we wanted to pay homage to their generosity while also offering them some advertising as well."
Sponsors and advertisers have come alongside Muddy Water in multiple ways. From production costs to supplies, local businesses have made Muddy Water possible for the entire community to enjoy. If for some reason a guest cannot afford the $10 admission price, Redding also has made it known that there are a few sponsored tickets available each evening to ensure that everyone can see the show who wants to attend.
"For our team at Muddy Water, this is about so much more than a ticket price. We want to make theatre in our community as accessible as possible. Everyone deserves a seat at the table. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the arts in our community. These sponsored tickets we've secured are dedicated as a first step toward making our mission a reality. We hope that anyone in need of assistance will take us up on it. We'd love to welcome them into our audience with open arms." ◼︎
For more information on Three Act Play and Muddy Water Theatre Project, click here.
If You Go:
What: Three Act Play
When: August 22-24
Where: Pop Uptown, 1234 Broadway