Alumni Profile: Samuel Lockridge and Taylor Schulz with Afterculture Theatre

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Q. What Comes AFTER GSA? A. Afterculture Theatre

Recently GSA had the chance to catch-up with GSA alumni Taylor Schultz (Drama, 2008) and Samuel Lockridge (Musical Theatre, 2006) about the theatre company they they co-founded in 2015, Aftercluture Theatre which is located in Lexington, KY.

dennykwanheadshot2      Sam Lock.

Taylor Schulz, Artistic Director                       Samuel Lockridge, Creative Director
Photo: Dennis Kwan                                       Photo: Laura E. Partain

Afterculture Theatre devises site-specific, immersive experiences in non-traditional spaces. Their goal is to help make central Kentucky an incubator of creative innovation, where the arts are accessible, relevant, and affordable to all. They  are committed to the use of theatre as a catalyst for social justice, transformation, and human self-actualization. They believe interactive theatre nurtures community and shared understanding among our audiences, encouraging them to proactively engage with one another and the issues surrounding them, ultimately creating a better world.

Governor's School for the Arts: In what ways did GSA influence the creation of Afterculture Theatre?

Afterculture Theatre: GSA directly influenced the creation of Afterculture Theatre because the two of us met working at GSA as RAs in 2013. We both had theatre and movement backgrounds but felt like our specific passions didn’t match traditional theatre, so we decided to collaborate. Taylor first introduced me (Samuel) to immersive theatre, so Afterculture likely wouldn’t exist without GSA.  

GSA: What advice do you have for GSA alumni who might be interested in starting their own theatre company?

AT: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance. Many of the people who helped us create Afterculture were former friends and colleagues from Governor’s School for the Arts. Samuel and I (Taylor) are both creative types, so we’ve sought a lot of guidance for the administrative side of our projects. Samuel is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration, which has been helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily require specialized schooling to run a theatre company. If you are scrappy, savvy, and willing to work hard and improve, the business side of running a company can be learned as you go along.

Secondly, reach out to other theatre companies and arts organizations and work together. Lend each other props, rehearsal space, labor time, etc. At first we assumed that more established organizations might be uninterested or even hostile toward burgeoning organizations competing for limited arts funding and resources, but we have been blown away by the generosity and collaborative spirit other organizations have shown us. When comparing a small struggling company to larger successful ones it’s easy to forget that we (artists) are all still underdogs in this culture.  

GSA: Can you speak to any of the “soft /21st century skills” that your training in theatre, music, dance, etc. has given you and how you’ve used them in your career so far?

AT: The simple act of working jobs and doing creative work on the side for several years has given us both time management skills that benefit us now running this company. Staying on top of deadlines, maintaining self care over several months, planning and executing large projects amid daily routines; all of that comes more easily now after several years of balancing creative lives. Our work in creative collaboration, such as in bands and theatrical ensembles, helps us now when collaborating professionally with other organizations to create a single, unified vision for each project.

GSA: Tell us more about the show, Trinity that closed last weekend?
AT: Trinity was an exploration into the mind and life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The premise of the show imagines the audience as guests at a jovial cocktail party, celebrating the first successful test detonation of an atomic bomb (code name: TRINITY) which occurred on July 16, 1945. During Oppenheimer’s toast, the show truly begins, signaling characters from his past to return and take him through an hour and a half long memory play, exploring the events and relationships that led him to the Manhattan Project, and later his loss of esteem with the government. During this hour and a half, audiences may follow any of six different characters, each with their own distinct storyline, simultaneously occurring on three different floors of Lexington Art League’s Loudoun House.

Trinity is told largely through dance and movement, broken up with brief moments of monologue to help with character exposition and history. Discoverable items (e.g. letters, diaries, and official documents) also help audiences gain a better grasp of the character’s interpersonal involvements. The narrative dances in the show were created collaboratively. We would spend hours improvising in the studio, review video recordings of each session, and then choose our favorite improvised moments to build choreography around for each duet and solo.
Here is a promo video with more information: https://vimeo.com/234023144


GSA: Any other project upcoming for Afterculture?
AT: We will spend a few months evaluating Trinity and identifying organizational, design, and performance areas to improve upon for future projects. Our goal is to create at least one major production on the scale of Trinity every year. While there is nothing on the calendar yet, we are developing several other ideas for original works and hope to announce the next project in the Spring.

GSA: How can GSA alumni and friends get involved and support Afterculture Theatre?
AT: We hope to start an ongoing fundraising platform, like Patreon, soon so that people can support us continuously throughout the year, or with one-time donations, if that makes sense for them. Other than financial support, we are always looking for help with our projects, whether in the form of artistic collaboration or administrative support. People interested in volunteering with us can email us at afterculturetheatre@gmail.com. We are also looking into becoming our own Non-profit entity, so if other Non-profits or individuals would be willing to meet us for coffee in the near future, we would deeply appreciate that contact.

Perhaps our greatest need is inspiring performance spaces to host our productions. We have thoroughly enjoyed our residency at the Loudoun House and hope to find more large multi-room spaces to bring to life with immersive worlds. If you have access to a house, warehouse, church, office, or any other interesting space you would like to see put to innovative use for a limited time, please let us know!        

Find out more through the links below!

Visit: http://www.afterculturetheatre.com/ and: http://www.lexingtonartleague.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/afterculturetheatre/
Instagram: @afterculture_theatre
Email: afterculturetheatre@gmail.com