For the past four years, acclaimed drag artist Ms. Kasha Davis has brightened up the Blackfriars Theater with her live events at Imagination Station.
During performances, Ms Kasha Davis – the stage name of a Rochester native best known for appearing on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – reads inclusive children’s stories. Kids and families also enjoy the original music, a dance party, and a themed craft activity, according to the Blackfriars Theater website.
“Imagination Station teaches love and acceptance, encourages children of all ages to live authentically and celebrates the beauty of how kindness and diversity can change the world,” the site says.
Now with the help of a supported community GoFundMe, this theatrical performance is developed into four pilot episodes of “Imagination Station with Mrs. Kasha Davis”. The GoFundMe page describes it as “a new local and family TV series”.
Launched in mid-May, the online fundraiser initially asked for $ 26,000. The group surpassed that goal – already raising $ 26,286 for the show – at the end of June.
Mary Tibali Hoffman, head of development at Blackfriars Theater, said they initially thought the $ 26,000 target might be a bit ambitious, even if it would fund a lean and minimal budget.
Ms Kasha Davis, Blackfriars Theater and Fish and Crown, a local video production and creation service, all donate their time, but there are still significant costs associated with producing a show.
“We said we could do it if we had $ 26,000, everything else is the icing on the cake, but that’s what we need to make it happen and the community has grown tremendously, c ‘is actually overwhelming, ”Hoffman said.
Community donations ranged from $ 5 to $ 10,000. Trillium Health has become a platinum sponsor of the project.
The theater’s GoFundMe page thanked Triullium and highlighted the healthcare provider’s origins as an HIV / AIDS clinic in the 1980s and its work with the LGBTQ community.
Considering the time, Hoffman was concerned about meeting the fund’s goals, but they were successful with both community support and sponsorship from Trillium, she said.
“I was nervous about it from the start because in these uncertain times it’s really hard for a lot of people to support a job like this, so it’s just amazing,” she said. declared. “Having a company like Trillium Health align with this project has been huge for us. “
“Imagination station with Mrs. Kasha Davis”
“Imagination Station with Mrs. Kasha Davis ”, the pilot series, builds on the live theatrical events that the Blackfriar Theater has produced.
The theater collaborates with Fish and Crown Creative, who becomes a production partner to write, build and shoot four episodes of approximately 20 to 30 minutes each.
The episodes will be shot on the stage of the Blackfrair Theater. Under construction, a stage set will have three different locations for performances.
There’s Mr. and Mrs. Kasha Davis’ home, the main setting, and an outdoor stage, like their porch, which will include a garden, Hoffman said. The kitchen can be transformed into a singer’s living room.
“A live pianist will roll into the shot and the lights can change dramatically,” Hoffman said. “A microphone goes down, (Ms. Kasha Davis) can jump across the counter as if it were the top of a piano. All the cabinets will have lights, so she opens the cabinet doors and (there are) marquee lights like there would be in a nightclub or a theater, so there is some kind of imaginative, fanciful thing that goes. is happening on the set.
The third and final filming location is the Imagination Station itself, which Hoffman describes as a “fairytale world, a storybook that (Ms. Kasha Davis) can walk into, which is basically a dragster closet. “.
Hoffman said the location had a dressing table, lights, wig shapes with different colored wigs, and fancy bouffants. There’s Davis’ Story Time Chair, which stands 7 feet tall and is upholstered in purple velvet. The chair has a working train with opening fairy doors, which enhances the “really enchanting, fun and whimsical kid’s thing” described by Hoffman.
The whole project is a collaboration between Rochesterians.
Jack Haldoupis worked at Blackfriar’s Theater as artistic director for 35 years before retiring. He returns to work as a production designer for the set. Haldoupis created renderings of what the elements of the house at Davis’s Imagination Station will look like, while a group of volunteer carpenters build the structure. They plan to complete the structure by mid-July, as they are due to shoot in the same month.
Along with Davis, Haldoupis and the volunteers, the team includes artists, designers, technicians and writers based in Rochester.
“All of our designers, all of our artists – we’re going to have a few neighboring characters and people that (Ms. Kasha Davis) will meet along the way,” Hoffman said. “Everyone involved is from Rochester now, so we hope it stays that way. “
“Imagination Station with Mrs. Kasha Davis” is designed to be a family-friendly program, which means viewers of all ages will find enjoyable elements in it, Hoffman said.
“We’ve all had to sit down and watch the shows that our kids are interested in, and it’s always more fun when there’s something parents can enjoy,” Hoffman said. “So that’s the goal, that it’s something that little, little kids can watch, that older kids get some value out of it as well, and then something that parents can appreciate and appreciate as well.”
Hoffman said she understands the type of show can be politically polarizing, but that’s not what he’s supposed to be talking about.
“It’s really about spreading a message of kindness, compassion and empathy and celebrating who you are without putting any limits on it,” she said. “It has been the focus of this program forever, so we are delighted to bring this message of kindness, positivity and empowerment to a wider audience, but centering it in the heart of Rochester.”
Although she declined to elaborate, Hoffman said there had been interest in the program from major streaming networks, including “the big guys.”
“We kind of do that in response to saying to them, ‘It’s really interesting, we want to see a little more of it,” “she said. “So hopefully we can keep that where, if it’s picked up by a big streaming network, we can still use it as a showcase for this region and all the good stuff that we have here in Rochester.”
Adria R. Walker covers Public Education for the Democrat and Columnist in partnership with Report for America. Follow her on Twitter at @adriawalkr or send him an e-mail at [email protected]. You can support his work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America.