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BOOM! Theater, a LGBT-focused theater company, got its start as Minnesotans were debating an anti-gay marriage amendment.
Founded in 2012, the theater company is entering its third season. TheColu.mn talked to artistic director and co-founder Patrick Kozicky about the company.
How did Boom! get started and when?
BOOM! Theater was founded in 2012. Our original concept was to produce collaborative works that highlight characters and stories that have been under-represented on stage. Our first production was called Engaged. It was an original script, conceptualized by the company, and written by Gemma Irish. We purposefully produced a show about the Marriage Equality amendment, up for vote here in Minnesota at the same time as the actual vote. We centered on a same-sex couple who were dealing with what it might mean for them if marriage was legal. We all loved the idea of producing a politically relevant show without forcing our own ideals on the audience. We prefer to raise questions and start conversations without leading our audience to a “correct” answer. We like to focus on the journey, not the destination.
What kinds of productions does the company produce?
Shortly after our first year, we went through some leadership changes. David Ahlvers (an original co-founder of the company) and I made a decision to pinpoint our focus on producing shows with LGBT content–shows that highlight LGBT stories, characters, and artists. On our website we actually use the acronym LGBTA; we think it is important that we include ALLY in our mission. We recognize that without the support of LGBT allies, our journey would be much more difficult.
A question we get a lot is, “why does your company exist?” For me, the answer to that is inspired by someone who asked that very question, but followed up by saying something along the lines of, “Now that we can legally get married, we don’t have to fight anymore. So why would I donate to your company?” This shocked me. But it also fueled my passion for the company. There are so many LGBT-specific injustices still happening, not only here in Minnesota, but nationally and globally. It scares me that someone could think that we’re done–just because something is legal, it isn’t necessarily respected. One of our main goals when selecting a script is finding the humanity in a story. We look for shows to which people can relate; we want our audience to see their lives represented on stage, regardless of sexuality, gender identity, race or religion.
How can people get involved with Boom! as either actors, or helping with shows, or even volunteering?
Now that we’re in our third year, and we’re finding our footing as a company, we’re able to spend more time on figuring out how to engage the community. How do we gain momentum and get people on board with supporting us? When people ask how they can help, my first response is always to tell them to see one of our shows. Buy a ticket, and spend an evening with us. We are so proud to share space with our amazingly talented artists, and we are confident that our audience will feel the same way. We also rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising. As a small non-profit, we don’t currently have the funds to support large scale promotions. We put a lot of value in our friends and supporters getting the word out about our productions. Clearly, financial support is another huge piece of the puzzle. Many people don’t realize that it is virtually impossible to fund a production solely on ticket sales. In fact, ticket sales are often the smallest portion of the budget. In a perfect world, we would be able to offer free tickets, like the amazing Mixed Blood Theatre. Until we reach that day, in addition to selling tickets, we are always seeking support to build our financial health and sustainability. We also realize that financial contributions aren’t a viable option for everyone, so something as easy as liking our page on Facebook, telling a friend to see our show, or volunteering at the box office, is just as valuable as any financial contribution.
Find out more about BOOM! Theater and upcoming productions at boomtheatermn.org