FRED at Midsumma 2019: From the Writer/Director

What Ever Happened to Jeremy Baxter? writer/director Wayne Stellini reflects on the team that will tell his story at this year’s Midsumma Festival…

I can’t remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution. Tellingly, I can’t remember if I ever kept one! A friend and colleague once told me that she didn’t believe in them anyway. Why wait for a specific date to make a significant change or promise to yourself?

If I put all of my creative eggs in the New Year’s resolution basket, I don’t think I would get anything done. This is because a project only feels right when it feels right. It cannot be forced and nor can it be rushed.

As of this writing, I am penning a play, have written the outline for another, and only yesterday wrote the lyrics for a stage production that began life as a novel. None of these shows may ever see the light of day, but there is a satisfaction about getting ideas out of your head and on to paper.

There is, however, a greater reward in the creative process: producing a show! There is nothing like seeing your story performed on stage, hearing an audience laugh at a gag or gasp at a dramatic twist. And when the performance is over, you’re overcome with a sense of pride as the cast stand in line and take their bows.

Do not be mistaken—a writer always feels like a play is one edit away from perfection, a director always contemplates how the show could come together differently, and a producer is always thinking how they could have used their time, connections, and resources better.

But there are certainties that put your mind to rest, combat self-doubt, and even make the work fun: the team.

Actors Bayne Bradshaw, Ryan Stewart, Jeffrey Bryant Jones, and Ben K. Ronec during their first workshop in the FRED Shed.

I am lucky to have such a hard-working cohort. Most of us have worked together before—and they’re crazy enough to put on their theatre blacks for me once again. It’s important to have some fresh faces too and I think we’ve have the mixture just right. (Well, you can only know that come showtime.)

It is a remarkable thing to watch actors pull your story apart, analyse it, and put it back together again to see how their respective characters fit in their world. And I don’t take for granted their enthusiasm during rehearsals, as I have worked with people in the past whose negativity is nothing short of toxic to the creative process.

But working with Ryan Stewart, Bayne Bradshaw, and Jeffrey Bryant Jones again reminds me of why I love collaborating with them; the rehearsal space—affectionately referred to as the FRED Shed—is filled with positive energy and dedication. I wondered how quickly someone new to this dynamic would fit in, but Ben K. Ronec did it with enviable ease.

Producer and stage manager Fulya Kantarmaci is the glue that keeps us all together. She is more adored than any stage manager should be, but I suspect that most people in her role don’t have the same charming smile and work ethic that she does. She also steps up to the plate whenever needed; helping with marketing, acting as a warm body when a performer is absent, collecting props with minimal notice… She’s also leading the team of producers. Phillip Hunting—always my right-hand man—and Kirsten Shannahan, are doing phenomenal work behind the scenes, most of which will never get acknowledged. But that’s what producers do. They make things happen.

With the world premiere of What Ever Happened to Jeremy Baxter? only twenty days away, we’re sprinting towards opening night. We have the momentum behind us to get there. As a team.

 

➡︎ Read more from Wayne about bringing What Ever Happened to Jeremy Baxter? to the stage HERE.

➡︎ Learn more about the show HERE.

➡︎ Help us tell this story! Make a tax-deductible donation HERE.

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