When Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble announced earlier this year that they were calling it quits after a decade of irreverent, intelligent devised stage comedies and re-imagined classics, the co-artistic directors hinted at some of their future plans. This week, Le Petomane alums Kyle Ware and Tony Dingman announced their new venture, Think Tank Theatre Company.
Unlike Le Petomane, a closed shop in which all productions were devised and performed by some combination of the six ensemble members, Think Tank wants more input from the community to create their first original show. To write “Ton of Bricks,” which will debut at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival in November, Ware and Dingman are conducting interviews with area residents about their personal experiences with love and loss.
From those stories, they’ll write their show, which will also feature actors Megan Massie and Mera Corlett, and possibly some as-yet-named collaborators. It’s a similar approach to the process used by New York’s The Civilians, a comparison Ware welcomes.
“We loved The Civilians from the first time we saw them at Actors with ‘Gone Missing,” he said. “They felt like real kindred spirits.”
Here’s how it works: Dingman and Ware are hosting an open forum at The Bard’s Town, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. to hear Louisville’s love stories. From those stories and other interviews, they’ll build “Ton of Bricks.”
“We’ll have some prompts so we can have some common themes from which to pull, but there will also be plenty of opportunity to wander outside that box and talk about anything,” said Ware. “And there will be paper forms if people want to tell us some things a little more privately.”
It’s a different process from working with a handful of trusted partners. But Ware says he and Dingman want to start their new collaborative project with what they see as the biggest collaboration of all – working with the public to source their script.
“Our job is to guide the process and make sure we come up with something that works as a whole,” said Ware.
He knows this will be a whole different animal, but he says the questions a new creative process and a whole lot of voices in the room raise are exactly what he and Dingman wanted to play with.
“How does it change things if we have a full band we’re working with? What does a poet bring to the building process? A dancer? Their skills and experience will see things from a slightly different angle and bring ideas, concepts and practices we might not have thought of,” said Ware.
“And at the same time, we all have some commonality as people who make stuff, and thus a common root language,” he added.