The Beginning

Wizard Oil Productions began on a napkin. After finishing a very successful student production, written, directed by and starring a close group of friends, the last holdouts at the after party began discussing the future. What did we want to do with our lives? Forget lives – what we were going to do after college? How would theatre fit in? And if we committed ourselves to working in the arts – how would we support ourselves? After some soul-searching and a bottle of cheap bar wine, suddenly we were having our first production meeting, for the then, Against All Odds Theatre Company. We created a list of people we knew who were multi-talented and interested in producing work. We knew we needed a wide base of people to cover all the jobs that would have to be done – on both the artistic and business end. We had a preliminary meeting of about 15 people to gauge interest. Of the 10 who came, 5 of us went on to change the name and form Wizard Oil Productions. I have been wrestling with the idea of working in the arts for a long time. At first it seemed like second nature. You go from one show to the next to the next. But as I got older and watched my friends learn about politics and social works and medicine, I wondered if doing theatre for a living was not a selfish thing to do. Yes, I’ll entertain people. Theatre is a good diversion from the stresses of daily life, but it can be more than that. It should be more than that. That when I decided if I was going to commit myself to this profession I needed to not only give people an enjoyable 2 hour experience, I needed to make them think. To educate them, to increase awareness, to make people ask questions and challenge ideas about the world around them. I brought this up at our next meeting. What kind of company are we? What do we want to do? I proposed my idea. Everyone was in agreement. We would only produce work that we felt would make an impact on each audience member, causing them to leave the theatre with a little ‘food for thought’, perhaps a new perspective, or an interest in something they knew very little about. We started list of concepts ranging from social concerns such as poverty, racism and politics, to personal problems such as human frailty and compassion. We thought about different types of plays that dealt with these issues, as well as new and innovative ways to present them. We talked about multi-media and interactive theatre, how to incorporate technology in our performance, and the possibility of performing for children as well. To reach this goal, we look for material that covers a range of issues and themes relevant to today’s world. We want to educate and challenge people’s sensibility, but we don’t want to force feed anyone what we believe. We look for work that may thematically fit with the work we find important to expose people to, not necessarily the plot. We draw from new and old work alike – as many different time and writing styles bring to light a range of issues that touch people in various ways. Our members work together to make this happen. We are a group of multi-talented theatre artists who rotate jobs, depending on the needs of the particular production. We double and triple as techies, actors and directors, putting our strongest skills foward on different projects, depending on what is needed to bring the play to life best. We look forward to bringing you work that we find meaningful, challenging and distinct. We hope that you can take away something from what we produce – if you do, we have succeeded. We know we can’t affect everyone we meet, but even one person makes us feel that we are making a difference. We are also a constantly changing and growing company. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions, we are happy to listen!

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