Nohoartsdistrict.com heard about a traveling pop up stage that will be traveling to different parts of the city. We spoke with Artistic Director, Maureen Weiss and Executive Director, Josh Worth of Trade City Productions about their new twitter twist on a century old entertainment concept.
How did Pop Wagon and Trade City Productions get started?
JOSH: Trade City was started in 1998 when we were invited to bring a children’s play to the International Children’s Festival in ˆSibenik, Croatia. We were raising money to transport ourselves and ten actors overseas, and we figured having a non-profit would make it easier. When we got back, we found ourselves with non-profit status and a group of talented collaborators, but nowhere to perform. So we started to look for a venue to stage our next project which was a play I wrote called High Glamour in Ypsilanti. Rather than rent a theatre, we ended up working out of a vacant warehouse on Pico in Santa Monica. We were on a month-to-month lease, so when the show closed we started to think of other ways to use the space while we had it. We ended up staying there for three years. We put on about ten art events, a dozen plays, some regular writing workshops and even a couple puppet shows. When we moved out of the Pico space we still had quite a few projects planned so we did those at various locations around the city for a few years. Even though we enjoyed being nomadic, we found it kind of hard to keep the artistic momentum going and keep our community together without a headquarters. That might be what eventually led us to think of a space we could take with us.
Tell me exactly what is a Popwagon?
JOSH: It’s a roving space for art, theatre, and everything in between. Hopefully every time it opens up something culturally relevant pops out. It’s a bit like the wagons used by traveling theatre troupes back in the day. Only it’s on Twitter.
Where did you get the idea?
MAUREEN: One of our board members came up with the idea when we were trying to figure out how to produce theatrical and artistic content without having to put money into renting a temporary space. It was sort of one of those moments where you decide to think outside of the box, and then you actually follow through on the crazy idea with a practical plan. We had been working with the CRA in the mid-city on ways to make our company more sustainable, and they helped us to come up with a business plan that enabled us to purchase and support a mobile theatre.
How can an artist participate – what are the benefits to the artists – what is the audition process?
JOSH: We’re always on the lookout for interesting projects and eager volunteers. We’ve got a page on our website where people can introduce themselves, submit work samples, and propose ideas. (www.trade-city.org/submit) It’ll be a great way for artists to present their work in a new context and reach audiences who normally might not make their way to the gallery or theatre.
What is the program schedule for the Popwagon?
MAUREEN: We are currently gearing up for the opening ceremonies of the expo line on April 28th. JOSH: After that we’ll be announcing more shows on our website and Twitter. Stay tuned. (www.trade-city.org. Twitter.com/TradeCityLA Facebook page: tradecity )