What makes Albuquerque the perfect home for a theatre company?
I grew up in Albuquerque and while several cities were considered, the pull of my hometown was too strong to ignore—the beautiful scenery, the long history of the arts embedded in the local culture, the thriving community theatre scene paired with the relative lack of professional theatre made Albuquerque the obvious choice. I wanted to start a theatre company in a community that would benefit from high quality work. We believe that theatre has the power to change the world, and we wanted to plant that seed for change in a city that’s on the verge of a cultural, social and economic revolution.
There’s quite a few theatre companies in the Burque. What makes DCRT different?
It’s fantastic that there are so many theatre companies here! We’re dedicated to producing professional theatre, which for us includes the quality of the work we produce and the accessibility of that work. We believe directors, designers, actors and stage managers should all be paid a living wage and we believe that can happen right here in this very state. New Mexico has such a ripe history of visual artists, dancers and musicians, and theatre artists belong right beside them.
What’s the weirdest show you’ve ever produced?
Ha! Almost every show seems crazy in some regard, but we recently did a show called The Drowning Girls that, as you might suspect, involved water. Lots of water. So it was myself and two other actors, and we were dripping wet—the entire time.
How do you connect with the local community?
We love partnering with local non-profits and organizations to help support the work they’re doing for the community. Right now, we’re holding a book and art supply drive for CLNkids (Cuidando Los Niños) during the entire run of Julius Caesar at The Cell Theatre (March 3-20). We’ve held donation drives for S.A.F.E. House, Enlace Comunitario, Road Runner Food Bank and Henderson House, and we’re proud of our many partnerships with organizations like Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails, Planned Parenthood, Farm & Table, Artichoke Cafe, Slate Street Cafe and The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, among others.
What do you love about Albuquerque audiences?
We have some of the coolest patrons! They are energetic and passionate about the work we do, and they’re super open to our non-traditional casting. They’re not squeamish and they don’t balk at controversial subject matter—if anything, they’re hungry for it. Several email or call us after a show closes to tell us their thoughts about the work. We love it and we love them! One gentleman has been coming to us for several years, but in the beginning he always brought a book, “Just in case he got bored.” We’re proud to say that he doesn’t even bother bringing a book anymore.
What role does education play at Duke City Rep?
Education is an integral part of our mission. We just wrapped our third year of Classrooms Alive!, an educational tour that brings professional, curriculum-based theatre to schools in Albuquerque and beyond—our last tour of Julius Caesar reached over 1,000 students across the state. We’re also teaching New Mexico’s youth “Life Skills Through Stage Skills” with our Imagine Action Conservatory (IAC) summer program. Our inaugural camp last summer was a huge success with students grades 3 all the way through 12, and we’re already garnering excitement from students for the next camp this July. Parents and students alike love IAC for its focus on confidence, bravery and creative problem solving—all taught under the umbrella of theatre and acting.
You guys talk a lot about “audiences.” Why?
Our mission as a theatre company always ties back to the audience—we’re here to serve the audience, and we make every artistic decision with that in mind. For example, we’ve introduced “DCRT Dialogue” post-show discussions—a platform where our patrons can safely discuss the work they see and begin to grow their own artistic vocabularies. We believe theatre is a transcendental experience, so it’s important for us to encourage our patrons to utilize their experiences at a production to prompt discussions with one another, even after they’ve left the theatre.
What do you hope the theatre scene in Albuquerque looks like in 10 years?
Thriving. Abundant. Prolific. I want Albuquerque to become a destination spot because of theatre. Artists will want to work here, tourists will want to travel here and theatre will be a common and desirable form of entertainment for local Burqueños. Instead of the perfunctory “Netflix & Chill” evenings, Burqueños will choose to “Live & Thrive” by taking part in powerful artistic experiences.
So, what’s up next for Duke City Rep?
We’re excited to be in the middle of a run of Julius Caesar at The Cell Theatre in Downtown Albuquerque. This show was a perfect choice for 2016, as it’s not only the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, but an election year. The presidential campaigns serve as an intriguing reflection of many of the themes in Julius Caesar, and we love hearing our audiences discuss the concepts of governance, patriotism and ambition after seeing the show. In May we are producing a smart new comedy by the award-winning playwright Adam Bock called The Drunken City, and in June we’ll be returning to Farm & Table for their special event “Theatre on the Farm.” So stay tuned!