The Next Stage Residents, a group of resident artists at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre, are producing “The Boy on the Edge of Everything” by Tasmanian playwright Finnegan Kruckemeyer. The group successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign last Friday to fund the show, which opens on May 12. Emily Breeze, the show’s director, said the play offers a generous mixture of comedic and serious themes.
“It’s an amazing play about finding balance in a person’s life,” Breeze said. “Besides it being very modern and funny, it also reminds us to never take things for granted.”
The play centers on a 12-year-old boy named Simon Ives who accidentally gets sent to the edge of the universe by a “spaceship” made out of a meditation tank. There, he meets the title character who lives a lonely and boring life by himself. The two then forge a friendship through learning about each other’s upbringings.
Breeze said that while the play is tailored to young viewers, it also conveys mature themes that reached a broader range of audience members. Breeze highlighted a specific scene in the play that focuses on the emotional effects of Simon’s departure on his family, noting that the message is more profound than what is usually seen in children’s shows.
“Many of the kids’ plays that I had read beforehand were really watered down,” Breeze said. “I think kids are much better at putting things together than a lot of what the current plays designed for them allow.”
Every year, the Next Stage Residents put on a “Theatre for Young Audiences” show. Breeze said that the artistic residents’ decided to stage the play after the theater’s educational department discovered it from a past performance by the Seattle Children’s Theater.
Jonathan Chapman, who directed the world premiere of the play at the Seattle Children’s Theater, commissioned Kruckemeyer to write the play through the theater company Trusty Sidekick. After the script was read at the Kennedy Center, the first production of the play was set to be done by the Seattle Children’s Theater. Linda Hartzell, artistic director of the theater, noted that Chapman enlisted the help of several Seattle-based designers for the premiere.
All funds for Long Wharf’s production were raised through online global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Although the initial goal had been set for $700, the group was able to raise a total of $1,225 from 18 backers. Breeze noted that they received a significant matching donation of $350. According to the website, donors who pledged $200 or more will receive a dinner with the creative team, backstage passes, limited edition poster, tickets to the show and a special thanks in the program.
Artistic Director Emelia Zuckerman, who directed “The Impossible Adventures of Supernova Jones” — another play funded through Kickstarter — said that one of the biggest difficulties faced by small theater productions is finding a stable source of donations. She added that many theaters have to find various donors in order to be able to fund their plays.
“In the past we’ve done crowdfunding through Indiegogo,” Zuckerman said. “This time we chose Kickstarter because it’s a more familiar brand that more people have heard of, especially in the older generation.”
The Long Wharf Theatre is currently staging “Forever” by Dael Orlandersmith, performances of which run through Feb. 1.