Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan talk ‘The Birds and The Bees’ and the power of Kickstarter

Rachel Sullivan and Maggie Keenan-Bolger. Photo credit: StageDoorDish.com

Rachel Sullivan and Maggie Keenan-Bolger. Photo credit: StageDoorDish.com

 

There are just a few hours left to help turn The Birds and the Bees Unabridged into a reality.

The new project by co-collaborators Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan attempts to raise awareness about the reality of female sexuality.

And in the next 17 hours (and counting), they’re hoping to raise more than $1,442 (as of 6 p.m. on Friday) to use towards various aspects of their production from costumes and basic sets and props to stipends for their talent to make it to the theatre on time.

The Birds and the Bees Unabridged takes women from all walks of life to open the conversation about what it is really means to be a female in today’s society.

It is the hope of Maggie and Rachel that their piece won’t just touch the minds and hearts of their audiences at Speyer Hall at University Settlement, from Weds. March 27 to Sun. March 30. They are planning to tour with The Birds and the Bees Unabridged around the country to offer these ideas to young women.

But none of this will be possible without reaching their Kickstarter goal because even if they’re short just $1, the project is considered a failure by the site’s terms and no money is distributed.

If helping out a worthy cause that strives bring more awareness about female health isn’t reason enough to donate, check out part two of my interview with Maggie and Rachel where they talk about Kickstarter incentives and why The Birds and the Bees Unabridged deserves to be a reality.

SDD: The Birds and the Bees Unabridged is becoming much more than a theatrical show. I heard you put together an art gallery exhibit to accompany it?

RS: Yeah, we got out of control. We thought, ‘Let’s go all out with this.’ We wanted to do this with our last project and for a variety of reasons it didn’t happen. This year we said, ‘Okay, this is going to happen.’ We feel that different audience members are going to connect with a variety of art forms. They might hear a song that connects with them. They might see a silent scene that really connects with them or a dance piece within our show that really moves them. Or they might be able to connect through visual art. We thought it would be exciting to have a visual art gallery that people can view before and after the show so that maybe can get them thinking about certain things before the show and affect their outlook on the performing piece and maybe the performing piece affects their outlook when they look at what collides for people, what they’re interested in, in exploring female sexuality. They might be exploring some of the same topics we do but some things we just can’t get into our 90-minute show. I’m really excited by that combination.

SDD: Where is the money from Kickstarter going?

RS: A good chunk of it is going to rehearsal space. There’s over 150 of rehearsal time.

MKB: We have a cast of 22, so we can’t use a small rehearsal space.

RS: It’s $30 to $40 per hour, so cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. We need to costume our 25 folk. Most theatre productions are at least $50,000 for four people. We know a lot of tricks but when you have 25 people, no matter how many corners we can cut with costumes, buying things adds cost. The same thing happens with props. We are simple with the set, a couple hundred dollars here and there add up.

MKB: It’s going to stage managers because we have such a huge cast. We want to be able to compensate them because stage management can be very thankless work. There’s something to be said being like, ‘We value you, we value what you do.’

RS: They’re receiving a stipend. We would love to pay them what they deserve which would be five times what we’re paying them. The money from Kickstarter is going to the essentials. We need this to do the show. The visual arts, we need to pay for a little bit of transportation. We need to help out with a truck. The artists aren’t being paid so we need to make sure we have methods to display their items. If they need a particular material we want to help them with that because they’re being very generous. Our programs are going to be pretty thick because we have so many people involved with this show but it’s important to thank people and show them that we appreciate what they’re doing.

SDD: Why is it so important to share these messages and get this information out there?

MKB: For me, it seems ridiculous not to share information that can be helpful to people. I was the only queer kid in my high school. I grew up with a very tense and limited idea of sex and sexuality, of what that meant and what that could be. As queer people, we have to think about sexuality. We don’t really have a choice to get into bed. You have to negotiate what is going to happen because you don’t see it on TV necessarily. A lot of heterosexual people don’t get that chance. And a lot of queer people, unfortunately, still don’t get that. If we know stuff and it makes people’s lives easier then, goodness gracious, why not share it?

RS: It seems this is talking about sex as a life skill that should be just as important as reading and writing and math. Maggie and I have done a lot of research but we’re not experts. So it’s not even about we need to teach people about x, y and z during the show. It’s about showing a variety of sexualities on stage and a variety of people speaking about their experiences and picking some of the things that people start to take for granted.

MKB: For years, people have dictated who we are and what we should do and how we should look. That has restricted us in so many ways. We aren’t going to be able to shed all that in the process of a play but at least we can start to break down. We can start breaking down some of these ideas of how we should act and think about how we want to act.

SDD: Have you started brainstorming for the future?

RS: We both really enjoy working with this women’s ensemble so I’m sure there are more themes we would like to unpick. Even with this show, we are calling it phase one or stage one because we’re not going to be able to unravel everything about sexuality in this piece so maybe we need to have The Birds and the Bees Unabridged Unabridged or Unabridged Part Two.

MKB: Opportunities present themselves. I want to take things where they go and find out how to make this a sustainable practice.

RS: If people are excited by our show, they should share if they can’t donate. That’s such a huge help to us, getting the word out there. It’s nice to see the support. We really appreciate that.

Please consider donating to Maggie and Rachel’s Kickstarter here or visit The Birds and the Bees: Unabridged website for more information.

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

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