Working With Friends: Michael Cotey Talks Youngblood Part Two.
Michael Cotey has shown remarkable talent since his first appearances onstage as a theatre student at UWM. Now fully graduated from UWM, Cotey and a few others are starting a new theatre company—Youngblood. I had the opportunity to speak with Cotey outside Alterra at the Lake during a particularly frenetic Summerfest weekend.
As the conversation progressed, we got to talking about Youngblood’s schedule. They’re opening their first three shows will all open by the end of the month . . . a schedule they’re referring to as a “summer season” . . .
THE SUMMER AND LATER . . .
Me: I was thinking: three shows opening in the same month.
Michael Cotey: Yeah
Me: To a certain degree, that’s not a season. That’s a festival.
Cotey: A little bit.
Me: So theoretically you’d be doing stuff during the regular season.
Cotey: Yeah. What makes the summer convenient is that none of us [at Youngblood] have theatre going on. I guess historically summer’s sort of a dry season fro Milwaukee. So it makes it easier for us . . . to be able to say, “yeah we’ll put on three shows.” But in the school year, we still have some people who are still in school. Some of our core members are doing Picnic with [Milwaukee] Chamber Theatre. It gets harder to schedule and get people involved. So when we get to September, we’ll decide what we can do. Do we do smaller shows? One of our cast has a two female cast and two outlying characters who help move the scene along . . .
Me: And that’s the one opening in the . . .
Cotey: . . . next weekend.
Me: Yeah. In the studio space, right?
Cotey: Yeah. And then Savage In Limbo is a five-character cast. And then GODBRIDGE is a six—seven character cast . . .
THE DYNAMIC OF WORKING WITH FRIENDS
Me: And I suppose iit’s too early to be talking about whether or not it’s just going to be you guys [the current group] working with the company or if you’re going to opening it up to others?
Cotey: No . . . I think we can talk about that a little. The thing that’s great about working with the people we went to school with and continue to hang out with is that there’s a lot of trust involved, so we’ve already hurdled past the first two or three weeks of rehearsals as far as getting to know each other. And our own strengths, y’know, it’s likea core company and I’m not saying that’s going to limit us forever. For the future. I’m just saying that for this and maybe the next couple of things we do, we’re going to probably keep working within the same circle of peers. Just because it’s easier to say, “yea, I’ll volunteer my time to this because you’re my friend and I enjoy working with you.” Because no one’s getting paid this summer. Everyone’s just doing this because we really wanted to do something.
Me: Is that really it, or is it more of a desire to gain experience so that you’ve got something extra for the resume to market yourself with?
Cotey: Absolutely, I think that’s a close second, but I think it’s more like . . . we were sitting around a table (probably at Alterra . . . one of the Alterras) and we’re sitting at a table and someone said, “If I had the time, I’d really want to do this play.” And someone else said, “I’d like to do this,” and then . . . I think we just kind of decided, well . . . we HAVE the time. We don’t want to sit here and come back a year from now and be bull$#!tting about the same things we WANT to be doing if we had the time, so we decided to take the risk, go ahead and do it. Maybe not the smartest thing to do three shows in a month, but it’s exciting. And everbody’s really supportive of each other’s shows. I think we have three very interesting, very challenging plays and they’re not light things, either. There’s some heavy subjects and heavy acting opportunities. And that’s the most important thing—we want to find acting opportunities that … are within our range ag-wise. Show’s about twenty-somethings or close to. And Acting opportunities that still stretch us and give us more experience. And I think we found three shows that really, really do that.
And then we started talking cast and crew for each of the shows. . . much of the conversation to tedious and mechanical to get into here . . . the information in that part of the interview is far more concisely found on Youngblood’s Website. Below are links to the info about the shows.
Michael Cotey: My recent Amazon order was—like five or six books on how to run a theatre, so . . .
Me: Laugh . . .
Cotey: I’m sure I’ll have to crack those open sometime soon . . .
Me: And I’m sure there’s something in there about opening three shows in a single month . . .
Michael Cotey: Yeah and how that’s a terrible idea. But I’m very excited about what we’re doing. And I think other people are excited, too because they’re getting the chance to create work which they may not have had the chance to do before. Ben [Wilson] gets a chance to see one of his plays [God Bridge] put up on its feet and produced. That’s a huge deal. And I’m just glad we’re able to provide that experience for him. And the other two . . .Theresa [‘Tess’ Cinpinski of David’s Redhaired Death] and Andrew Voss [of Savage In Limbo] . . . they get an idea of what it takes to have an idea of what they want to do and bringing it to fruition. And I think that’s great and I think that’s sort of what this company is going to be about is . . . taking it beyond the “these are the things we want to do,” stage and moving them into the “this is what we’re doing” stage.
Tomorrow: A review of opening night of Youngblood's opening show: David's Redhaired Death