Hi! My name's Eric Schoen and I'm the Producing Artistic Director of Class 6 Theatre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit theatre company based in Phoenix, Arizona, since 2009.
My main reason for starting this company was to see if I could have a greater, more positive impact in the world of theatre and on the people around me. Working with small groups of local talent, I wanted to helm a company that would complement the local theater community, yet still find a room of its own.
Why is it called Class 6? Is it because it sounds like "Classics" which is a genre of theatre?
The company's name comes from the Class 6 ration stores we had on base, when I lived overseas. Vices or necessities, everyone had a reason to go. But you could only get those coveted goods in limited amounts. When your ration card was full, you had to wait until the new cycle started.
Hey! That new cycle of coveted goods sounds like how the theatre season works! Is that why your season pass is called a Class 6 Ration Card?
Exactly. Class 6 Ration Cards are $70 and get you in to every show and staged reading of our 2013/2014 season (details below)
Why start a theatre company in Phoenix, Arizona?
Class 6 Theatre began as a chance to bring more art, more paid work, and a little more hope to an area of the country that sometimes seems to be on a mission to quell anything that encourages thought, provokes debate, or rewards open-mindedness. This company was built around the idea that the artists, patrons, donors, and volunteers here might like one more positive and entertaining option in their lives.
The Valley (Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, and all the towns that comprise the country's 6th largest metropolitan area) is a rough place to make a go of it, for any nonprofit. But in the last two years, over half a dozen nonprofit theatre companies and arts organizations have closed their doors.We want to find and cultivate the future of theatre here, and do our best to help reverse this trend. In fact, we've already announced our 2013/2014 season:
The 12 Dates of Christmas
by Ginna Hoben
"One woman's hilarious and heart-warming tale of life, love, and the holidays in this Arizona Premiere"
The Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
"Battle-weary and bitter, one man becomes a Christmas elf and ends up with more than he bargained for"
by Sam Shephard
"Filled with rage and black humor, this Pulitzer Prize-winning author's drama pulls no punches"
by William Shakespeare
"A modern, cross-gender version of this powerful story of politics, assassination, and revolution"
***Plus, our Tuesday Night Staged Reading Events...complete with complimentary refreshments***
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by Ken Ludwig - Tuesday, November 12th
Stop Kiss, by Diana Son - Tuesday, January 14th
Animal Farm, by George Orwell, adapted by Nelson Bond - Tuesday, May 6th
It looks like you are pretty successful already. Why do you need my support?
Beginning our 5th year is about more than just survival; it's about our next evolution.
We want to begin an outreach program to bring our unique brand of theatre to students.
This campaign represents our first real opportunity to expand into the most crucial area for the future of all theatre: schools. We're not in debt. But we're also not growing enough to begin something like this on our own. Which is why we need your help.
What do we have?
* the plan, the volunteers, the venues
What do we need?
* the funding for supplies, transportation, venue technical fees, teaching assistants, and our on-site visitsWe're going to provide advance information packets to a comprehensive group of local schools that shows how our program not only meets Arizona Standards of Learning requirements, but does it in an exciting new way.
1. Provide advance site visits to prep the faculty and staff
2. Pre-show dialogues and contests to get the students ready
3. Student matinee performances
4. Post-show discussions
5. Character-based workshops immediately after the show
6. On-site follow-up visits to get the metrics on what worked, what didn't, and how we can keep growing.
Not even me.
In fact, I don't get paid anything.
We're always counting pennies to make our shows happen.
Our revenue comes from three places: donations, ticket sales, and grants. Based on a very conservative projection of ticket sales and grant funding, we found our target to make this program happen.
Our goal of $2750 (minus site fees) is what it will cost, with grants and ticket sales, to create the infrastructure for our outreach program and fully fund it for one season.
Then we have six weeks, over the next year, to bring in as many students as we can.
And if we exceed this goal (shoot for the moon!) then we'll be able to add in another matinee/workshop package, hire 1 additional teaching artist, and expand our contact radius by 5 miles. (Lot of schools to contact!)
So, what's in it for me?
Our perks are designed to make you as much a part of the company as possible without actually, you know, giving you free rein in the tech booth. Being small and keeping within our limited budget means that our perks are more labors of love than eBay-valuable. The essence of Class 6 Theatre is making smart theatre accessible to everyone. Keep it intimate and affordable and constantly dare the unexpected. We have a range of perks for you to choose from, depending on how involved you want to be.
Are you sure this will even work?
We've had some limited success with outreach performances for adults and kids. We've staged 5 benefit performances over the last two years in theatres, colleges, and a church. These were actually the biggest audiences we've ever had. Towards the end, we began experimenting with post-show discussions. Not only did these work, but they sometimes ran almost as long as the show itself.
We want to expand and actually create an atmosphere of immersion, and tailor each event to the school's needs. Schools in this area have never had access to the kind of nimble, modern, innovative theatre that we do. We can help show them how small-scale, professional theatre is still vital today. We can be one more option for them to stay in the Valley after they graduate, make a home here, and give back.
What if I don't have any money to give?
Even if you aren't able to make a donation you can play a huge role in helping us succeed, no matter where you live! Please help spread the word and use the Indiegogo share tools to tell more folks about our fundraiser. The only way for us to stand out is for you to tell people about us. The more popular we are (with or without donations) the more prominent our campaign is, and the more likely we are to reach our goal.
Here's to all of us, and here's to making this happen!
Producing Artistic Director
Class 6 Theatre