On Stage

FireHouse Studio

The world’s a stage

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Evan Mueller stands alone under a spotlight at the FireHouse Arts and Events Center. The professional actor and Western Washington University professor is wearing a casual blue suit, and a wooden cane chair acts as his only prop.

“All the world’s a stage,” he intones, looking meaningfully toward where the audience would typically be sitting as he begins a compelling rendition of one of William Shakespeare’s most famous monologues.

“They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages,” he continues, poetically describing the circular pathway from infant to schoolboy, lover, soldier and elder.

While watching Mueller bring to life the memorable scene from Act II of As You Like It, it’s easy to forget you’re viewing the performance onscreen, and not from a front-row seat at the intimate venue in historic Fairhaven known for its great acoustics and superb sightlines.

But thanks to FireHouse Studio—an innovative new partnership between the FireHouse and film, theater and video company Stiletto Rosso Productions—actors, storytellers, dancers and musicians can temporarily return to the stage, and patrons of the arts are able to enjoy high-quality shows without having to wait for theaters to reopen during a future phase of Washington state’s Safe Start order.

A recent press release about the collaboration notes the FireHouse Studio is not meant to replace live theater, but rather to offer an alternative to performers and audiences during a period of global crisis when it’s more important than ever to stay creatively connected.

“Theater isn’t meant to live alone,” Stiletto Rosso Productions owner Valerie Dalena says. “It lives and breathes to bring people, ideas and art together in a single space and time to share experiences, and to create magic. The Studio will bring a bit of that magic to theater audiences, connect them to performers, and help keep the Firehouse an inviting and thriving neighborhood hub.”

Here’s how it works: Musicians, storytellers and dancers can book time in the theater to present their shows, where they’ll be recorded by a professional staff who will be using state-of-the-art video, lighting and sound equipment to capture the various types of magic—all at safe distances, of course, and with additional safety measures and protocols in place.

In addition to providing audiences with a way to access a wealth of local talent from people who are probably relieved they’re not reciting Shakespeare in their own living rooms, FireHouse Studio also results in the performers owning the finished videos outright after 90 days—the amount of time it will remain on the theater’s Vimeo page.

Tickets for performances can be purchased for a minimal fee, and then be watched (and rewatched) at any time during the show’s run. To get a free sampling of what’s possible, go to the FireHouse’s website to watch Mueller’s masterful take on one of the Bard’s best-known missives, as well as see belly dancer Rachel Carter perform three pieces inspired by the Middle East, and a short set by musicians JP Falcon Brady and Michael Longnecker.

The latter duo will be featured during the first ticketed performance of the FireHouse Studio, which goes online Weds., July 22 and can be accessed for a mere $5 for a 48-hour streaming period. During the hourlong set, the longtime musical partners will perform a collection of their original works, and they’d love it if you tuned in.

It’s probably going to be strange for them and other performers to be doing their thing in a theater where the seats are empty and the crew is the only audience, but I have a feeling that, like the rest of us struggling to adjust to a new normal, adaptation is key, and participation is necessary.

To find out more about rates for the FireHouse Studio, and to get details about upcoming performances, go to http://www.firehouseperformingarts.com/studio

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