By Dana Casadei
Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is Slipstream Theatre Initiative’s inaugural production. Photo: STI
SS_2249_5.jpg: Bailey Boudreau is co-founder and artistic director of the new Slipstream Theatre Initiative.
FERNDALE – There are moments, big and small, where lives can change in an instant. For Bailey Boudreau, one of those moments happened over dinner.
His future co-founder, Jennifer Jolliffe, asked him about his life goals. Since he’s been working in the business for 20 years, he told her eventually he’d like to start a theater company. Jolliffe continued to ask Boudreau questions about that goal, and Boudreau had answers for all of them.
“She said, ‘Well, it sounds like you’re ready to do it now. Let’s get started,'” he revealed.
The next day the duo began filling out paper work and planning for the Slipstream Theatre Initiative.
First up was trying to figure out how they were going to start a company that would be different. It’s made clear quickly that this goal was met in numerous ways.
Boudreau, who is also the company’s artistic director, said the company will perform Sunday through Wednesday evenings and start their season in December as to not take away money or audiences from theater companies that have been loyal to him.
Also, Slipstream is a mobile company, meaning shows will be performed in different venues throughout Detroit and Ferndale.
And each of the season’s eight shows will have some sort of twist to them, like an all-female version of “Hamlet.” The shows were also conceptualized to focus on the intent of the playwright and make them relevant and fresh.
“If (Henrik) Ibsen’s intent was to show shock with ‘A Doll’s House,’ we go, ‘How do we make that relevant today?'” Boudreau said. “Then we look at current issues happening today and we try to infuse that into our story.”
This leads to one of the company’s most unique elements, partnering each show with a charity that relates to Slipstream’s concept of the show. Boudreau said the company has an active Indiegogo campaign, and the closer they get to having the season pre-funded, the more money they’re able to give to their partnered charities from ticket sales.
The idea of giving to charities came up while discussing what their concept would be for “A Doll’s House.” The group associated it with the Ariel Castro kidnappings, and after more discussion, they were led to The Lighthouse Foundation of Oakland County.
“We thought about that, and then we thought for all of these shows our concept is based around something that is sort of a universal truth,” Boudreau said. “There are foundations out there struggling that stand for these universal truths, so why not pair up with them?”
And pair up they did. The company’s first show, Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” partners with the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit. The show, which is directed by Boudreau, begins Dec. 7 at the Michigan Actors Studio in Ferndale. Other charities Slipstream teamed up with are The Trevor Project and He For She.
“If we’re not giving back in some way to another foundation that is struggling to make a difference in a non-artistic way, then I don’t think we are doing our jobs as artists,” Boudreau said.
Not only do these charities connect with the shows, but Boudreau strongly believes in each cause as well, like gender and marriage equality. He mentions that half of these charities are LGBT-focused, and speaks passionately about all the charities selected.
“We want to make theater that makes people think and incite some sort of change in them, even if it’s momentary,” he said.
‘The Winter’s Tale’
Slipstream Theatre Initiative
at Michigan Actors Studio
648 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale
7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28
7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, 15, 22, 29
7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, 16, 23, 30
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, 17, 31