I was interviewed by photographer/writer Brooke Herbert Hayes for Sixty Inches From Center about Good Stuff House and our Traveling Truck Show project! Here is a little excerpt:
Brooke Herbert Hayes (BHH): Can you tell me about the inspiration for The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show?
Kayce Bayer (KB): We were inspired by early American traveling shows, like medicine shows, dime museums, and early vaudeville. A few things intrigued us about this early form of performing arts: the variety of acts that performed in these shows, the idea of this fringe group of artists working and traveling together, and the unifying experience for the audience—people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and demographics laughing and crying and heckling together. At the same time, we were exploring Chicago history, with all its mythology and characters, and thought it a rich topic for storytelling.
BHH: Would you ever consider doing the truck show on a larger scale and traveling further with it?
KB: We like the idea of exploring new territories and topics, but it can’t get any larger without hiring a crew. We were thinking smaller, actually, more intimate, more focused. We learned a lot from this go-round and would like to build on that, but we’re not sure what that will look like just yet.
BHH: So, what did you learn from putting on such an in-depth, multi-act show and why do you think you’d want it to be more intimate?
KB: I learned a great deal about community outreach and navigating city codes. Unlike other projects in the past, I wanted to do this right, get permission, speak with authorities, and make connections with people around each site. After much research and blind calling/emailing, I presented our idea to a City Park Advisory Council, alderman, community leaders, organizations, and just about anyone I could think of that might be interested in either being involved or hosting our show. Once I got in, it was an easy pitch, but it was often hard to speak to the right people. Other than that, this was a big undertaking, especially for such a small team of makers. Chris and I literally spent every weekend for 6 months working on the many aspects of this show. Luckily we had a lot of help, too!
I also learned that creative people are amazing! All our help—makers, acting talent and guest performers—were volunteers. Everyone came together for the sake of putting on this crazy thing. I am really grateful for that. I would want future endeavors to involve some pay for these folks.
Overall, I gained experience in organizing a large group of people (we were almost thirty), planning four somewhat customized events, and understanding the ins and outs of production equipment rental. The initial challenge for me was being a part of every step of the process—research, script-writing, music, visuals, promotion, and performance. I really enjoyed this creatively speaking, but I physically exhausted myself (and Chris, too!).
In the end, it was an adventure! And I’m glad we pulled it off without any complete disasters.As I reflect about it now, almost two months in the distance, the desire to create something more intimate might just be for opposition’s sake. I’m ready to withdraw and take on a small attainable goal.
But also, we’re interested in learning from the successes of the show and spinning that into a future venture. Although the show’s variety was intentional, I sensed the need (from audience reaction and feedback) to narrow the scope. We had so many characters and storylines, I’d like to focus in for more cohesion. Space-wise, the outdoor arena was a strategy for accessibility and inclusion, but I missed the audience interaction and sense of community closeness that is imbued in more intimate settings.
Read the full interview and view Hayes’s fabulous photos of the show here: http://sixtyinchesfromcenter.org/archive/?p=18425