News Column

Words Players looking to 'kickstart' new troupe

May 17, 2014

By Tom Weber, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

May 17--Words Players has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help with funding for a new acting troupe, the Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company.

SkyVault will be made up of experienced young actors who have taken part in Words Players productions for several years, said Kathy Kuhlmann, executive director of Words Players. "They're high school and college age," she said.

The new troupe this summer will perform Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Twelfth Night" in communities in the region. The tour starts June 14 in La Crosse, Wis., and visits Northfield, Lake City, Stewartville, Red Wing, St. Peter and Mankato before concluding Aug. 2 and 3 at the Loring Park Art Festival in Minneapolis.

"It's been really exciting, the response we've had," Kuhlmann said. "We're working on details for the summer and looking at the fall."

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of $7,700, which would help fund some upgrades for Words Players productions. One of the priorities is a new vehicle that will allow transportation of actors and equipment. Traditionally, Words Players' Shakespeare in the Park productions include the arrival of the actors and musicians in a caravan-style wagon.

"We're looking for something that is more road-worthy," Kuhlmann said.

Words Players turned to Kickstarter as a way to develop an additional revenue stream and to "kickstart" the new SkyVault troupe.

"It seemed like a place to launch something for a start-up," Kuhlmann said. As is usual for Kickstarter campaigns, contributors are offered premiums based on their level of giving. For example, in exchange for a contribution of $250, the donor can have a Shakespearean sonnet composed in their honor and recited at a performance.

In addition to the new SkyVault traveling productions, Words Players will present Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Twelfth Night" in Rochester parks June 20 through July 5. Plus, a 14-and-younger Shakespeare troupe has been will perform during Rochesterfest June 23-28.

The expanded offerings and performance troupes are in contrast to just last summer when Words Players was in such dire financial straits that it appeared the theater company might close its doors for good. Now, the company is in better shape financially than a year ago, Kuhlmann said. "SkyVault is the key to a two-year plan to diversify our revenue streams and to expand in order to be sustainable," she said.

The Kickstarter campaign continues until June 8. A link to the Kickstarter site is available at


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Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)

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