Get to Know what’s in a show: Sunrise Coven

Get to Know what’s in a show: Sunrise Coven

“You know why it’s so dark out there?
New moon tonight. A fresh start.”

– Winter Moon (as played by Julie Sonia Locker) in Sunrise Coven by Brendan Bourque-Sheil at Know Theatre

Our first show of Know Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season kicked off August 12, 2022. Starring Denise Dal Vera*, Julie Sonia Locker, Ryan-Chavez Richmond, Resa Mishina, and Michael Burnham (with a late-breaking assist by understudy Jim Stark), Sunrise Coven opened to a sold-out house and a standing ovation.

Why this show?

Did you Know? Our script selection process at the Know is a collective effort. In fact, the script for Sunrise Coven was first brought to our attention by Marketing & Communications Manager Liz Carman! Sunrise Coven earned the slot to open our 25th Anniversary Season because it’s a story that matters. This new play is a story about hitting rock bottom, looking around, and then finding a way to not just crawl back up from it, but also to lift up the people around you while you’re at it. It’s about how community care can subvert oppressive systems. It’s got a juicy role for a leading woman amidst a quirky and memorable ensemble.
And it’s funny as hell.

The Process

A little help from our friends went a long way this time. Veteran Know director Holly L. Derr stepped in late in the process to lead the show, and with just a couple of weeks notice, was ready to get to work in rehearsal. Thanks to the support of donors and subscribers who, like you, believe in what we do, we had the resources on hand to:

  • bring guest director Holly up from Memphis (where she is the head of Graduate Directing at the University of Memphis)
  • bring guest actor Resa Mishina in from New York to take on the role of Annie Gin, MD
  • give our tech and production team the raw materials and labor needed to build the set Andrew designed (including the gorgeous floor new Design Associate Danielle Robison painted by hand!),
  • pay every artist involved a living wage for their work, and
  • provide enough COVID-19 tests and masks to keep everyone safe throughout the rehearsal period.

The challenges

Making theatre in a pandemic means sometimes the pandemic catches up with you. This time, that meant that one of our actors had to step away after the first weekend of shows due to a positive test.

To honor our contract with Actors’ Equity and ensure that we keep folks safe, we paused in-person performances for a weekend and offered the show as video-on-demand while we worked on contingency plans. Lucky for us, our Production Manager Jim Stark is a skilled actor who fit the role! A quick couple days of “put-in” rehearsals made it possible for us to reopen the show.

The impact

From the audience:

“I sent messages to dozens of people about how good this was! … This show should be required viewing by every medical student or resident AND every health care administrator.”

“Love new works that, well, WORK! Great find on the script!

I want to see it again.

“…my husband and I couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s why we support The Know!”

– feedback from the audience survey

From the staff:

Sunrise Coven was an ideal showcase for one of our newest staff members – Danielle Robison, our new Design & Production Associate. Her steady and creative hands crafted the iconic sigils on the floor of the set (freehand, we might add!) as well as the ambience of the broken-down hospital and the maximalist dreamscape of the Order of Obsidian Midnight’s metaphysical storefront.

This show and this company has given me the opportunity to work in my dream field after graduating from my undergraduate studies. I get to make art every day, and work in a community that has a shared passion of bringing art and theatre to the public. It’s endlessly fulfilling, and I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. For me, this show was about fulfilling the dream every young artist has as they’re growing up, of being able to create every day, and enjoying every minute of it.

– Danielle Robison, on her very first show at the Know!

That’s Jim, back in 2017’s “The Arsonists”!

Although Production Manager (and surprise understudy) Jim Stark jumped in at the theatrical deep end when he volunteered to take over the role of Jax, he says the cast was so supportive in making it all work that he didn’t worry about getting through the show. It was nice to see the audience reaction from stage, too:

“I was very impressed with thoughtful responses from the audience – they were picking up on the subtle implications in the script and the design work in ways that made the whole evening very gratifying,”

– Jim Stark, on taking over a role with about 36 hours notice

Bottom Line:

Despite losing a weekend of shows to COVID-19, we still made 73% of our box office goal. We take that as a sign that Cincinnati is primed and ready to get back to new advenutres at the Know. We cannot wait for you to see what’s next.

To all of our Annual Members and everyone who bought a ticket, watched the streaming version from their homes, made a donation, or volunteered this summer:
Thank You for kicking off Season 25 with us!