?: megan farmer/the world-herald
Celebrating their 30th anniversary season, The Bluebarn Theatre distinguishes itself as the only professional adult community theatre in Omaha.
Susan Clement, producing artistic director of the theater since 2002, attended Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts in New York where she would meet her theatre family and meet the founder of the first Bluebarn Theatre in 1989. While their group of friends came from different backgrounds, they were united, according to Clement, “not by blood but by passion and by training.”
As Bluebarn continued to grow, “very generous Omaha philanthropists believed in what we were doing and decided that we needed our own space,” said Clement, which provided their cornerstone donation for the theatre we currently see today at 10th and Pacific Streets.
To resonate with the broader community, BlueBarn’s goal was to weave voices from all over the world within one community. Built from the ground up, “our mission has always been the same,” said Clement:
“to provoke thought, action, and change, that is the one of the reasons that we are still in existence,” maintaining their goal and keeping with what they do best.
?: eric francis
After 30 years in practice, the team at Bluebarn has learned many valuable lessons along the way. The team is doing something right, however, because, “we have to shut down our season ticket sales early because we sell out so quickly!” exclaimed Clement. Looking back, it is amazing for Clement, “to think back to a bunch of college kids, who just wanted to tell stories that would resonate with people.” Now, after 30 years, the Bluebarn has never been stronger.
Encouraged by an enthusiastic community of creatives and theatre lovers, Bluebarn has now hosted people from all over the country both on and off their stage. Their 96-seat, off-Broadway sized theatre received some pushback for their intimate size during construction, but as Clement insisted, the Bluebarn was simply not meant for a large house.
Featuring a theme following ‘American Pieces’ for its 30th season, Bluebarn echoes its very first season by exploring plays that, “resonated with all walks of life. We are a theatre that has a great passion for the plays we put onstage,” and seeks to encourage people to think in another manner than their own.
However, said Clement, “we don’t do shows to try to change people’s minds about things, we try to choose stories that will maybe create a spark of thought or an emotion that that person has not entertained.”
And with that, they might re-enter their portion of the world with a slightly different vantage point.
What truly sets BlueBarn apart from other theatres is their belief in paying their actors. While they do hold open auditions just like any other theatre, they also seek to compensate them for the immense time commitment they make and motivate local talent to stay here in Omaha to continue dazzling lucky audiences with their skills. “So many artists are fleeing Omaha because they can’t make a living here,” which is why it is so important to support local artists. Because of the Bluebarn’s decision to pay their actors, they are also attracting new actors from Kansas City, Los Angeles, and even New York. Casting a wider and wider net, BlueBarn seeks to inspire creative thought and continue bringing local theatre to the city of Omaha.
The Bluebarn just opened their last show of their 30th anniversary season, which will run until June 16. The Woodsman, featuring the tin man and other characters from the Wizard of Oz, incorporates life-sized puppets along with real actors for a once-in-a-lifetime performance. James Ortiz, writer and designer of The Woodsman also attended Purchase College years after Clement and her classmates, bringing the BlueBarn’s story full circle.
If you are interested in tickets to The Woodsman or more information about BlueBarn, visit www.bluebarn.org.
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