When we moved to New York in 2005, we were under the delusion that we’d go and see a show a week. Some of the world’s greatest theatrical performers were at our fingertips, and we were ready to soak it all in.
Then reality, and the insane cost of living (that slowly eats away at your soul), began to sink in, until we realized that our Facebook friends visiting the city from far away lands were patronizing more NYC theater than we were.
Enter Letter of Marque Theater Company. The ensemble, founded by Nolan Kennedy, Scarlet Maressa Rivera, and Welland H. Scripps in 2013, decided that it was time to bring some talent out of the expensive city theaters, and into a place more accessible to the general public…neighborhood bars.
We reached out to the innovative group to learn a bit more about Letter of Marque’s mission, their latest show, and why they decided to begin performing in bars.
SSN: First of all, tell us about Letter of Marque Theater Company.
LoM: Letter of Marque (LoM) is a non-profit ensemble company that is run like a pirate ship. The three founders (or Captains, as we put it) are on a rotating artistic lead. The crew votes democratically on just about everything, but we recognize that even the most ensemble-minded groups need a leader, so we share that responsibility.
What is the goal of the theater?
Letter of Marque’s purpose is to reinstate Art as a cultural necessity. Our mission is to create approachable, accessible, and dynamic theater. And our goal is to sail our wayward generation into a positive-minded, empowered, and unified future.
How would you describe Bully Me Down?
Bully Me Down is a play about the cycle of bullying through three interweaving storylines. One follows real-life privateer, Captain William Kidd. Another tells the story of a bullied teen. The third imagines what happens next with NSA secret-leaker, Edward Snowden. All three characters are victims of bullying and are bullies themselves. Bully Me Down surmises that bullying isn’t just a media buzzword, but, actually, a symptom of an isolated, fear-driven society.
What can folks expect from the show?
Original and re-imagined music, transformational theater magic, lots of laughs, stage combat, a swath of 20 characters played by four actors, and a special guest appearance by a puppet Barbra Walters.
What makes neighborhood bars a good theatrical venue?
LoM is committed to making theater approachable, especially to the younger demographics. We know most young folks can’t afford the $100 NYC average ticket price, but can afford a few cheap drinks. And bars are already community hang outs. What great venues for free theater!
Do you guys have any other big projects on the horizon?
A month after Bully closes, we are throwing a fundraising casino party at Littlefield in Gowanus on June 21 we’re calling Fortune’s Take. It’s already shaping up to be a not-to-be-missed event with three bands, raffles, a silent auction, swordfights, and a full space installation. Then, next season, we plan to remount our successful holiday show, Gifts in December, and then tackle some Shakespearean comedy in the spring of 2015.
If neighbors would like to help the theater, what’s the best way to show their support?
Come out and see the shows! We’re performing in over 10 locations all over Brooklyn. Every show is free and we are working out drink specials with all our venue partners. If neighboring businesses want to help, we are in search of local donations for our Fortune’s Take event in June. And, of course, we are always accepting donations through our fiscal sponsor, Artistic Evolucion. Your donations allow us to keep making powerful, innovative and (most importantly) free theater! Yo ho!
Through Wednesday, May 21, Bully Me Down runs at a number of neighborhood bar locations, including Freddy’s (627 5th Avenue) from April 29 to 30, and Draft Barn, (530 3rd Avenue) on May 12 and 13. All shows begin at 8pm, unless otherwise noted. For more information, and the complete schedule of performances, visit the Letter of Marque Theater Company website.
Photo via Letter of Marque Theatre Company