The Story of the Floating Apple

Heather Stone, Sean Byrd, Jim Bovino, Sara Richardson, Wade A. Vaughn in Victoria In Red: Sandbox Theatre 2005.

In the earliest days of Sandbox Theatre, the four founding members of the company were busy creating what would become our first production, 2005’s dreamy and dark Victoria In Red. From the start, Sandbox set out to be a design-focused company, always stretching ourselves to find unique ways to pull our audience out of their world, and into ours. No small task when you’re performing next door to a bowling alley.

So we dreamed as big as we could in the little space we had. We built an extension for the Bryant Lake Bowl stage, thrusting ourselves into the laps of the cabaret tables in the first three rows. We painted an actor all white, from head to toe every night. Suit, face, hands, hair, everything. And we wanted an apple to float on stage. Not with wires, not with fans, we wanted it to float like some hovering miniature spacecraft over the heads of audience members.

“it (the apple) was shorthand for ‘while technically cool, in practice this just ain’t gonna work.'”

We tried everything, both conceptually and practically, but we could never get the apple to float. The energy we expended to make it happen exceeded the value it might have brought to the show. For many years, calling something a “Floating Apple” put the brakes on whatever was going on in the rehearsal room — it was shorthand for “while technically cool, in practice this just ain’t gonna work.”

As years passed and our company evolved, a Floating Apple became something new. Rather than look at our impossible dreams as something to avoid, we reframed the idea: what if we asked ourselves to do one thing, every show, that we never thought we could? As a company, as individuals, in whatever way, we wanted to reach beyond our known abilities, and attempt to float an apple.

If we never try to do something we absolutely can’t do, then we’ll only do what everybody else can.

Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but the beauty of those failures is knowing our limits are stretched just a little farther each time. We need to consider ridiculous, complex ideas so we can go beyond dreaming big — and enter into a mindset that says “prove this can’t be done.”

After all, this is theatre. If we never try to do something we absolutely can’t do, then we’ll only do what everybody else can.

 

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