If you’re Zoomed out and desperately missing an organic connection to the theater, Shelley Butler and West Hyler – a husband-and-wife duo of Broadway directors, each with more than 20 years of experience on such smash hits as Jersey Boys and Beautiful – have devised a new time-honored solution to keeping you personally involved. As the Founding Co-Artistic Directors of Artistic Stamp, they and their company will take individual audience members on an intimate interactive journey via handwritten letters between you and a character in one of six original adventures. You can choose the story that appeals to your unique taste, react and respond to the customized correspondences you receive through the USPS, and then play a lead role in deciding the final outcome, over the course of a four-month seven-letter narrative arc that plays out from September to December.
The 2020 inaugural season of Artistic Stamp consists of distinctive plays-by-post from six different playwrights, offering a wide variety of themes, scenarios, and age-appropriate experiences. The selection comprises Ben Bonnema’s The Constellation Melody, in which a single melody haunts four composers over two centuries in four nested tales (for adult and teen audiences) that explore the power of music to transcend time and space; Ida by November Christine, an all-ages account of Civil Rights leader Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) discovering her voice in the fight for equality in post-Civil-War Memphis; Elyne Quan’s The Hidden Slipstream, a sci-fi fantasy for young audiences and the young at heart, in which two otherworld figures attempt to return an alien artifact to its rightful place on Earth, but need your help in restoring balance to the planet; The Wax Box by Matt Schatz (for ages 13+), beginning with a letter from the previous occupant of your home, purporting that something of extreme value is hidden within its walls; Jahn Sood’s Fall In Love in 4 Months, a provocative adults-only romance that develops in three steps, from meeting the matchmakers, to telling them all about yourself (the more honest you are, the more likely you’ll find true love), to becoming embroiled in a dramatic affair; and The Otherwise by Natalie Ann Valentine, targeting 18+ audiences to harness the magical powers they possess to protect a mysterious group of vanishing guardian deities, while helping them to banish the monsters that threaten our world with darkness and chaos.
Once the adventure begins, you’ll receive a letter in the mail every two-three weeks; you will have up to three days to respond with your own handwritten letter (pre-stamped postcards are provided), and soon the character from the story will be writing back with a response that is specifically tailored to your reply, which determines the next step of the story. Thus begins a cycle that will continue for the next four months, until the experience comes to a surprising conclusion with the arrival of the seventh letter.
Artistic Stamp has assembled a cast of 30, personally reading and individually responding to every letter, to bring the playwrights’ words to life through their handwriting and to create an epistolary relationship between cast member and recipient. In addition, handcrafted props, appropriate to the stories, have been procured and created by Theresa Pierce.
The first letter in each series will be mailed to registered participants on September 21. For tickets, available in one $100 payment or four $25 installments, go online.