Today marks the first preview for Theatre L'Acadie’s inaugural production of 70 Scenes of Halloween by Jeffrey M. Jones. The show runs from September 26 through October 13 at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago, IL.
This week, Statera caught up with the three founders of Theatre L'Acadie for a conversation about making art, the Chicago arts community, and women who’ve inspired their work.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
StateraArts: What inspired your to start Theatre L'Acadie?
Emily Daigle: Brandi, Kaitlin, and I attended the same BFA program at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The idea for Theatre L'Acadie planted itself during our senior year of college and developed once we all relocated to Chicago post graduation. Fueled by the desire to create meaningful work and make a difference through the use of our art form, this tiny idea soon became a reality. We weren't waiting on anyone else to create our own work.
Brandi Champagne: We all felt very similarly about needing to do something big if we wanted big things to happen to us. As three women who are multi-talented we wanted to make sure we could use all of our skills to produce art that spoke to us.
Kaitlin Romero: Because we all came from a university where we focused on a well rounded education, we have a multi-faceted talent set that makes us hungry for work that we can really sink our teeth into.
StateraArts: What do you love most about your artistic community?
Brandi Champagne: I love how giving and how communal the Chicago theatre scene has been in this past year. It really has started to feel like family already. Since starting our company, we have had endless amounts of support and advice from so many wonderful people in the community.
Kaitlin Romero: Within the Chicago community, I really love the fact that this is such a welcoming place for actors. I believe that’s also why all three of us decided to move here after our departure from college. We all wanted to move to a place that both inspired and welcomed us as artists.
Emily Daigle: Starting your own company is no easy task, having a supportive baseline is the key to success. I believe this reflects within the Chicago theatre community as well; this artistic community has proven itself to be extremely supportive and encouraging. We would not be where we are now without the constant support and generous advice from professionals within our Chicago community.
When did you feel most supported or championed by the women in your life?
Emily Daigle: I'd say through the development of this theatre company, Theatre L'Acadie. Not only do I feel empowered by the women I work with, but by the women who support my work. I am incredibly lucky to come from a family of strong and smart women. Women of fearless nature who inspire my go-getter work ethic and encourage me to take up space.
Brandi Champagne: I also have always felt so incredibly supported by my two lovely co-founders. They are definitely some powerful women in my life!
StateraArts: Tell us about your inaugural project 70 Scenes of Halloween?
Brandi Champagne: 70 Scenes of Halloween is our inaugural production as a company and it is a show that hits really close to home for all of us. Its a Dark Comedy that digs deep into the things that we’ve stated in our mission statement. We see the mundane, ugly, and ordinary evening of a young couple on Halloween, as well as the inner workings of their minds.
Kaitlyn Romero: It’s an eerie show about a couple that must live through a night of utterly absurd happenings while trying to keep their already fragile relationship hanging on.
Emily Daigle: Jones's work is incredibly challenging and thought provoking. I can't wait for Chicago to witness this untraditional tale of love and loss!
StateraArts: Tell us about another woman or non-binary artist that inspires your work.
Kaitlin Romero: Felicity Jones, for her subtlety and sheer rawness of her work. If we are talking about women generally that inspire me, I would have to say Emma Watson. She’s a pioneer for education and has been very influential in terms of showing me what it means to be a positive role model for women around the world.
Emily Daigle: Much of my work as an artist and entrepreneur is inspired by Reese Witherspoon. She is innovative, ambitious, and eager to incite change. I'm endlessly searching for ways to do more for others within my art form, and that is exactly what Reese does. She's a self-starter and an activist for women within the entertainment industry. In 2016, she started her own media company, "Hello Sunshine", with the sole purpose of creating and promoting content by and about women. She acts, writes, produces, and more, all while being a phenomenal mother; the woman truly does it all.
Brandi Champagne: I feel extremely inspired by Toni Collette. She’s done it all (stage, screen, you name it) and she’s done it very well. She is powerful and talented. She is the epitome of what I strive to be as an artist.
StateraArts: Mentorship is at the core os Statera's mission. Tell us about one of your mentors. How did they shape you or provide pathways for opportunity?
Brandi Champagne: There are SO many women in my life who inspire me deeply. The first woman who comes to mind is definitely my professor from my undergrad, Sara Birk. She is a powerhouse and is so incredibly great at what she sets her mind to. A bond was definitely formed in my 4 years at UL and she is always the first person I turn to when I need assistance.
Kaitlyn Romero: I would consider my sister in law my biggest mentor. She’s one of the people that encouraged me along the way of starting my first theater company. She also provided a means (along with my brother) for me to continue taking acting classes. She encouraged my to put myself out there, and really try something for myself. She gives me guidance in every walk of life.
Emily Daigle: I've had several mentors throughout my creative career, but one mentor that stands out to me is my dear friend, Leah Raidt. Two months into my move to Chicago, I signed up for the StateraArts Mentorship not knowing what to expect. In turn, I was introduced to an incredible human, Leah, who was everything I never knew I needed. Fresh out of undergrad, Leah was a tremendous help with my transition from the academic setting to the professional world. She introduced me to the ins and outs of the Chicago entertainment industry, actively worked with me to achieve my goals, and was the very person who encouraged me to start my own theatre company. In times out doubt, she was always there to listen and knew exactly what to say. She was one of my first friends in Chicago and a home away from home. Leah is giving, fearless, confident, driven, passionate, and...the list goes on. I wouldn't be where I am today without her guidance and I am infinitely grateful for our relationship.