Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009

Quitting the Day Job after Three Days: More With Matt Kemple

By Russ Bickerstaff
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In this, the penultimate part in the interview with Matt Kemple, the local theatre professional talks about his move to Milwaukee, quitting his day job after three days and some of the groups he’s been involved with. Much like the local music scene, the local DIY-level theatre scene is littered with projects that have started briefly only to vanish. Here I challenge Kemple to list the groups he’s worked with over the years . . .

Matt Kemple:
I actually met someone involved with Bucketworks six days after I moved here. I had a sales job selling siding and windows and gutter systems for three days when I first moved here. And that was the worst job I ever had. I never got a paycheck from it. It was just a really bad experience. I went into my boss’ office and I said, “I can’t do this, I gotta go be an actor.” And he looked at me like I was crazy and he said, “Okay, fine, you go and you be an actor.” And I found out actually about a year ago that that guy got arrested for embezzling from his company or something. So I guess it all worked out in my favor in the end. But I moved here and I got involved with Bucketworks. I learned so much from being there. I was sort of forced into a position to create with no limitations other than no budget. Those were essentially the rules. You can do anything you want, you just can’t spend any money. So that’s what I did I spent three years there and I built a theatre space as you’ve seen, and I think I’ve helped start something like . . . over a dozen theatre companies and groups . . .

Me: Not t put you on the spot . . .that sounds like a large number, could you rifle them off?

Matt Kemple: Pink Banana was one of the first, actually. And they’re one of the only ones that are still around. I should be more accurate. I didn’t necessarily start all of these groups from scratch. I certainly was there to help in the creation of all of these groups. Some of them kind of had the idea already, then came to Bucketworks and came to me t help with that, but. Let me just try and think . . . Doom (the comedy troupe,) Socially Awkward ,which is now The Gentleman’s Hour, The Olson Arts Theatre Group, which I think . . . is still performing. (They do a lot of things with inner-city youth.) We’d helped with the mask and puppet theatre that did Kafka—The Trial of Joseph K. . . . who else?

Me: Well, there was Dramatists’ Theatre . . .

Matt Kemple: Dramatists’! and then there was Allegro Productions, the next season . . . there was the Progressive Theatre Movement (that we had a couple of meetings about that didn’t really amount to anything) but there was a process there that we’d started with it . .

Me: Crosswalk Theatre?

Matt Kemple: oh, yes! You’re better at this than me . . . that started at Bucketworks with Josh Perkins and Liz and I thin Brian Miracle had a hand in that . . . and the Milwaukee Sketchfest started there because of all the groups that we had there. And open improv, which is now at the Alchemist. I know there’s probably three more . . . and I’m forgetting.

Me:
And right no it’s just the Sketchfest and Next Act and Pink Banana? Is there anything else going on for you right now?

Matt Kemple:
I just moved into my house this weekend . . . I just sent months renovating . . . but a lot of that came from my experience in the theatre. All that backstage building I learned how to use tools and I really understand how things are put together because of that experience. I’m just in this amazing place in my life right now where . . . I really struggled when I moved here, but when I moved here I really wanted to change my life. And I decided that the only way I could do that was to move away from my hometown. Somehow I found myself in Milwaukee and every day has gotten better than the day before . . . this year for me has been remarkable. Marrying my wife and getting a house and the sketchfest has really moved to such a level . . . and this job here [with Next Act] is such an amazing fit.

Tomorrow:
In the final part of the Matt Kemple transcripts, Matt discusses the decision to move further away from the theatre stage into the office and more.

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