Riding 4600 miles coast-to-coast, Rascal Traveling Bike Theatre isn’t just play-acting.
“How much money do you have in Kickstarter now?”
Allison Fenner, 26, says, “We have a little over $12,000. Our goal is $20,000. It’s getting nerve-racking.”
“What happens if you only get $12,000? You keep the money, right?”
“No,” Fenner says. “The thing with Kickstarter is that you need all of it [or nothing]. You can choose between 30 and 60 days [for your campaign]. I think ours was 35. The last day is Sunday, April 19. Our real budget is $40,000, but we figured people will be feeding us, helping us, and some companies will donate gear.”
What Fenner is talking about is Agile Rascal Traveling Bike Theatre. Their website explains, “This summer, we will be the first theatre troupe to tour an original play, coast-to-coast, traveling the whole way on bicycles.... Our play, complete with costumes, sets, lights, and sound, is compact and flexible to pop-up in almost any location indoors or outdoors. We will perform in a variety of spaces, from bars to art galleries, parks to black box theaters.”
Agile Rascal will play San Francisco, Oakland, L.A., then perform at the Encinitas Art Walk on June 4, thence to Tucson, Silver City, Albuquerque, Denver, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City, and more. The trip will go 4600 miles as the bike flies, 105 days on the road.
“My Dad is Navy,” Fenner says. Her family moved to San Diego when she was “...five or six. That’s where I grew up. My parents still live in Spring Valley.
“When I was in middle school I worked with Christian Youth Theater, that was mostly musicals, large cast musicals. Then, in high school I was in the theater program at Monte Vista. I moved up to Berkeley for my undergrad, studied theater and performance studies, graduated in 2012.
“I met my project partner last year,” Fenner says. “I saw a poster, ‘Seeking Adventurists/Art Makers who are also passionate about biking, interested in writing a play, and taking it across the country.’ I met with Dara [Silverman]. She has a degree in film from NYU and a master’s degree from SF State in playwriting. She thought of a project she would want to be invited to and then created it for herself. Sounds easy, but...it is a huge commitment. Every day it becomes more and more of a commitment until we finally cast off. Then it will be, literally, our whole lives.”
Future Bet to Win the Yellow Jersey 2015 Le Tour de France (selected riders): July 4–26, 2015
Picture it. Cycling into Ocotillo with six co-conspirators. Where does everybody sleep, eat, bathroom, shower, and change clothes? No money for motels or restaurants. How about tomorrow? How about the next 103 days? Muscle pulls, butt blisters, flat tires, athlete’s foot, wind burns, cuts, scrapes, bruises. Think about writing a play, recruiting actors to improvise, sharpen, and rehearse. Do it for months. Figure out equipment, figure out how to carry, push, and pull every bit of it for 4600 miles.
Fenner says, “The way these crowd-funding things work is that you have to keep reminding people and dipping into your network of friends to get $20 here, $50 there, $10 here. We have seven of us working on that. We made half of it in the first week. It usually slows down in the second week — we only brought in a couple thousand dollars; and then the last week is when you get, usually, the last third. It comes in the last couple days. Our last day is Sunday, April 19.”
What about the play? Start with cataclysmic drought. The West Coast is uninhabitable, its entire population is displaced, forced east. The drought is moving east as well. The boundary between the oncoming killer desert and landscape that remains, for the moment, normal, is called “the Edge.” There is a man running a gas station and convenience store on the furthest line of the Edge. His job is to service drought refugees as they pass through.
When the last refugee has passed, the corporation the lonely attendant-guy works for stops resupplying groceries and gas, turns off water and electricity, comes around and moves him to another convenience store further east. Except this time they don’t. Conditions get so bad, vultures are talking among themselves, wondering if it’s time to break vulture code and eat a live lizard.
Bicycles, lizards, talking vultures, world catastrophe, teenage girl with bad ’tude, two sexy travelers headed west, mysterious scientist, a sea creature, strange gas station attendant, PLUS an invitation to come along. Fenner emails, “I would love to have more adventurous artists join us along some part of the journey.”
Interested readers are directed to: agilerascaltheatre.com/kickstarter/. Scroll down to the “Click Here to Donate” box and have at it.