Almost exactly a year ago, a group of theatre students at the University of Idaho set out on what was to become one of the most incredible and influential artistic journeys of my life. The aim, initially, was to spend a year building a musical from the ground up with an ensemble of student artists.
We did it. Originally inspired by a nine-page short story by the beloved author Anton P. Chekov, SLEEPY: a musical was expanded into a 100 minute original musical, created and performed by a group of students of varying ages, musical experience, and theatrical backgrounds. The piece itself is something stunning. Something I could have never envisioned on my own. It is often strange and funny, heartfelt and bizarre. It is a deeply personal attempt, by all of us; to investigate the hatred we see in our world. It seeks to playfully encourage us towards love, and to open our hearts to the acceptance of our deepest sorrow.
The play is good. But what is more important and what has left a deeply impactful handprint on my heart is the process in which it was made. Over the year, I watched these incredible artists grow. I watched students become their own best advocate. I watched stage managers become lighting designers, actors become writers, writers become musicians, and musicians become leaders. Most importantly, I watched this group become a family. And then we got to inspire a whole community to tell their own stories, and fight to make their own work. I think that is incredible, I think that is empowering. I think that’s the kind of faith and energy we need in the world right now. That is why we need artists.
Though the play closed in May, and many of us have graduated and moved away from Idaho, we have been honored with an invitation to share SLEEPY: a musical at The Kennedy Center American College Festival, Region Seven. This festival will take place in Spokane Washington, in February 2018. The NPP National Playwriting Program has invited us to share our play as a celebration of new work.
The Kennedy Center American College Festival, known lovingly by its participants as (KC)ACTF is a week long intensive that brings together theatre students, working professionals and guest artists from around the country. Within this week, students compete and share their work with one another. They participate in workshops to expand their skills, and learn from those working in the field. It is a deep honor to be invited to share an entire production, and in this, all of us in SLEEPY are ecstatic at the prospect.
In a lot of ways, I believe this play is meant to be shared at this kind of festival. Though I hope SLEEPY has something for everyone, I think of SLEEPY as a kind of love-letter to theatre makers and story tellers everywhere. I think we would add a lot to this year’s festival, I think that we could share our excitement with the students of Region Seven, and the professors/professionals too. I think we could encourage this generation of artists to create their own work, that nothing is impossible, especially when the fight is for the good.
I thank you for taking the time to read all this. This project is very close to my heart, very close to all our hearts. In order to make this grand adventure a reality we need your help. It’s going to take money to get those of us who have left Idaho to Festival. As many of us are no longer students, the Festival, travel and living expenses fall on us. The monetary goal listed on this campaign is to encompass getting five of us from Chicago to Moscow, a weeks worth of rehearsal, and then on to Festival. It also includes festival registration and lodging expenses in Spokane.
Your support has always been extraordinary.
Now, we humbly ask for it again.
No amount is too small.
Thank you, truly, from the bottom of our hearts.
-Maiya Corral & The Lost Children Band
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