Mortar Theatre Company is a non-profit arts organization in the storefront theatre movement in Chicago. Unlike a lot of small theatres, we're more than just actors. We're made up of playwrights, artists, actors, and directors. With our unique mix of talents, we bring a holistic approach to theatre. We care about the words, the aesthetics, the impact, the importance. We call this an exercise in fearless storytelling. Since forming in 2009, we've produced 5 world premiere plays, 1 midwest premiere, and started a tradition of developing new work through reading events.
Our next big thing is Chicago Madness. Let me explain. Chicago is an incredible artistic community and the influx of talent every year is amazing. Artists from across the country will tell you that Chicago is collaborative. Chicago is supportive. The theatre scene is supportive and rewarding. But breaking in can be daunting. Even for established artists, finding the time to experiment and meet new theatre artists can be hard to do. In the spirit of the collaboration we hope to foster, Mortar has joined forces with another theatre company, the Pegasus Players, a company with a 30-year history and over 75 Jeff Awards. Together with the help of playwright curator Dana Lynn Formby we are producing Chicago Madness, a monthly event designed to become a community for playwrights, actors and directors to meet on level playing ground, create work together and socialize/network.
Popular in New York and Minneapolis, MADNESS is an idea-generating process where playwrights, directors and actors create theatre pieces in an exciting time-restricted setting. Each MADNESS event is kicked off with the selection of a theme, style or concept. From this inspiration, playwrights create five- to ten-minute plays before kicking it to their directors who rehearse and develop the new scripts with actors. The process culminates in a performance of all the pieces at the end of the one-week deadline.
We've done Madness twice in Chicago so far to great success. Over 70 artists and theatre appreciators were in attendance at the first event! We see a lot of potential in Chicago for Madness and can't wait to expand it.
What new functionality we are looking for
Currently MortarTheatreCompany.org is the online home for news and information about our productions, workshops and staged readings (it definitely needs a re-boot itself). We've created a page for Chicago Madness on our website; however, we believe that Madness requires functionality beyond the capabilities of our own site. We have purchased ChicagoMadness.com but have been unable to create the full experience that would be optimal for this idea to flourish.
Each Chicago Madness event is organized purely online in the frantic 7 days of prep we have for each event. Currently this is all happening at facebook.com/ChicagoMadness. Playwrights post on the Chicago Madness facebook page as roles are being written and cast directly from the comments on the posts to find actors and directors. It's kind of a mess. Facebook Timeline makes finding posts impossible. Too many playwrights as admins makes notifications go missed. We've had hundreds of actors reach out, but housing all the disparate information they throw at us then disseminating it to the playwrights has become impossible, especially considering that we only have 7 days to make each event happen! We have to match the actor who is the right age, race, gender to the playwright with the right rehearsal schedule (they often only have an hour or two to rehearse sometime the week before the performance). The fast paced excitement will always be there, but we can do a better job making all these connections happen.
Have the ability for actors and directors to register as Madness members so they can upload resumes and headshots for us to keep in a database
Have a blog for posting news
Have a forum to foster community discussion
Have an admin/moderator system for playwrights to be able to access actor info and email them
Potentially connect to a ticketing system
Be a group where theatre artists come outside of Madness events to find fellow collaborators for projects
It can be part of a re-design of MortarTheatreCompany.org or exist entirely on its own.
How the new functionality will help
We don't want to simply make plays, little nuggets of content that we blast out. Theatre as an art is about collaboration and community building. So, as theatre citizens, we want to foster the collaboration inherent to our art form, despite the challenges of modern living. We think theatre should take advantage of new technologies as a means of bringing people together. With Chicago Madness, we can give new stories, new voices, new talents opportunities to flourish.
Strangely enough what you're doing in the Chicago tech/programmers/digital community is what akin to what we're doing with theatre. Bring the talent together and give them an opportunity to create.
Madness could and should become something bigger than a once a month event. If we can enable and sustain the collaborative atmosphere of this experiment past the night of the event, we will have succeeded in making an important contribution to the Chicago arts community.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
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