Why do we do what we do? We sat down with Tony Ryan, the Artistic Director of Pipedream Productions, to find out how Pipedream came to be.
What made you want to start your own theatre company?
Tony Ryan: After graduating from DU, I started talking to grad schools for a Masters in Directing. All of them told me the best way to get into school would be to get experience working as a director in a professional capacity. I decided the best way to go about that would be to fund my own shows that I’d want to direct. I started with Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. I chose a group of people from DU that I knew would help me realize what I wanted from the play and four of them ultimately became Pipedream.
How did you choose who you wanted on board?
TR: I had worked with Lexie, Trevor, Ashley, Katie, and Cullen all throughout undergrad and I knew that their zeal for theatre was along the same lines as my own. We also happen to be a very well rounded group. All of us have experience in multiple areas of theatre with most of us doubling as designers and directors as well as being able to act. I wanted a group that would push each other to work harder on the shows we wanted to do and I think we’ve crafted that together.
What is your favorite thing about being an Artistic Director?
TR: Getting to direct shows when appropriate. I’ve been in pursuit of directing since high school and made sure to direct at least one show each year of undergrad. Helping to choose the shows that we do each year is also a bonus because I get to check off bucket list items and work on creating new works of theatre.
What is your vision for Pipedream? In five years, what does the dream scenario look like?
TR: I want us to be the theatre where audiences come to participate in what we’re doing. There’s a passive aspect to many pieces of theatre that Pipedream wants to steer away from. I also want to help more young artists like ourselves have a place to pursue their theatre goals. Theatre has always been about collaboration, but Pipedream wants to take that a step further by allowing the audience to be a collaborator. The dream scenario in five years would include being able to afford a season of shows, paying the artists competitive wages, being recognized as a LORT theatre with Equity and using equity talent, and ultimately having a loyal audience base that’s willing to take as many risks as we are.
What advice would you give someone who's thinking of starting their own theatre company?
TR: Find people you trust to help you and constantly work with them while building your company. We’ve had a lot of help from DU in terms of finding spaces and the wealth of advice our former professors still provide is amazing. The local artistic directors of other theatres have also proved invaluable in their advice. So I would say ask questions often and assemble a team that will challenge your assumptions and further your goals. And make sure to do the things you’re excited about. If you’re excited to share a piece of art, your audience will be excited to experience it.