Friday, August 26, 2011

Chris DeKalb Creator Of The Sleepy Hollow: Ride Across America

Chris DeKalb has been involved in theater for the last ten years working on the production side of things for everything from community theatre, live radio drama and burlesque shows. He’s a fan of horror but enjoys working on many different types of projects from 1-man shows to major holiday events. He owns far too many DVDs and doesn’t plan on giving up the habit anytime soon.

What is the current project you are working on?

I am the creator of the Sleepy Hollow: Ride Across America project which is a series of performances across the US this Halloween. Four groups in four cities will be doing an original take on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow story and performing it as live radio drama.

I’m also the producer for the Boston show: The Big Broadcast of 1954 which includes the original adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

A group in Atlanta is doing a Southern version of the story, a group in Oklahoma is doing a Native American themed one and in Seattle there is a group doing a modern take.

Live radio drama is a stage performance that uses the methods of the golden age of radio to tell the story, notably voice actors in front of microphones and live foley effects.

Did you always want to work in the theater?

I got into theater very late, after college I worked two jobs, one of which was nights at a movie theater. I loved the work but not the 80 hours a week, so I ended up leaving. But I found working in the theater community to be just as rewarding so I’ve managed to put quite a bit of my time into that.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m always amazed at the people who put together the shows and the theater companies. It is a massive amount of effort and you truly have to believe in your vision.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

I’ve been House Manager for nearly 60 shows. I’ve been Producer for about a dozen or so.

How has your life changed since you became involved in the theatrical arts?

Oh yeah. Most of my free time is gone. But I’ve also met so many interesting people and got to be involved in things I never expected.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the theater business?

Work hard and be dependable. People remember if you’re someone they can count on and that gets you invited to bigger and better things.

What activities do you like to do besides the theatrical arts?

I’m a big movie buff and like to read. I enjoy traveling.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a producer?

This is a side gig, I still have my day job as a project manager to pay the bills.

What are some of your favorite Plays? American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

My favorite play is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. There’s a Canadian play called Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love that I’m hoping to do sometime. The movie version “Love and Human Remains” is also quite good.

Some of my favorite films are Requiem for a Dream, The Paper and Aliens. I like foreign films although I don’t get to watch nearly as many as I’d like. I’m a fan of Seven Samurai and Oldboy.

How would you describe your theatrical education?

On the job. I started at the bottom at the movie theater and watched and learned, then came to theater and did the same thing, seeing how things worked. Asking questions and keeping your ears open are very important.

How would you describe the arts "scene" where you live?

Boston has a thriving arts scene, thanks in part to all the universities. Each area has its own community theater group and so many awesome shows go up it’s great.

How has social media changed the radio industry?

For the Live Radio Drama stuff social media has been fantastic. It’s a great way to find other people who are interested and to spread the word. A big part of Sleepy Hollow: Ride Across America came about because I was able to find and contact the other groups online.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a great way for giving a focus for people to help out your project, and I like how if a project takes off it can really boost the awareness of your shows.

The downside is it also shows when your efforts haven’t attracted anything. It must be very rough when you’re sitting at 3 days left and you’ve raised $23.

What is the casting process like?

We use open auditions for our parts and it’s the usual level of stress. The actors are worried if they get the part, and the directors have to figure out who will work out the best. We’ve been lucky and have a lot of talented people in our area so the choice is never easy.

You could go back in time and see any classic radio broadcast being made. Which film would it be and why?

The classic one would the War of the Worlds broadcast. To work on a show that had that much effect would be amazing.

What's your favorite quote and why?

I forget where I heard it but I’ve always liked “Wisdom is the knowledge you gain by living through your giant mess-ups”. The actual quote is a bit more vulgar, but I’ve always found it amusing. Mostly because it’s true.

I also like the idea behind it, that everyone makes mistakes and don’t be afraid of trying. At least you’ll learn something (even if it’s “that was not a good idea”)

You could have any super power. What would it be?

I always thought postcognition (the ability to see the past) would be a neat one.

What is your opinion on movie remakes?

Generally I’m not a fan of remakes. There are some exceptions, and I’m grudgingly beginning to think the Fright Night remake might be fun.

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

I like them, especially when I haven’t read the book. Because if I liked the movie, the book will be like an extended immersive version.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Come see my show! :)

You can see a full list of the participating groups on the Groups page of I’m working with PMRP in Boston.