Creative Duo Teams Up on DJT Mainstage Show
We were excited to sit down for an interview with Ashley and Bobby Becher. The duo is working on their first Mainstage show here at DJT, Aesop’s Falables. We are thrilled to be working with them.
The wife and husband duo are the creators and owners of the production company WhatFun! Theatre. WhatFun! is committed to making theatre for youth that is: smart, approachable, artistic, and fun! The couple met while working theatrically in South Korea for many years, performing and leading workshops to youth and families. To date, the duo has created an array of productions, many being produced in various theatres in 2019.
Aesop’s Falables is a hilarious musical version of the many fables from the great storyteller Aesop. Sir Wilfred Wolf, who claims he has been wrongfully penned by Aesop as the ‘bad guy,’ undertakes a plot to overturn other fables and reveal his truth. But Jack-in-the-Box and his dancing entourage have other plans in mind. The audience goes on a journey with many twists and turns, learning lessons from fables along the way.
Why does the story of AESOP’S FALABLES matter?
ASHLEY: This show is silly and goofy, but also has such a big heart! We hope audiences will learn the value of words, and the impact they have on others, and honestly on their own thinking. Aesop's is important because it teaches us that we don't have to let the things people have called us define who we are. We can create our own identity. Our most important lessons are "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted" and "Kindness can erase our stereotypes."
BOBBY: The storyteller Aesop is credited with many stories - and especially fables - that have been used to teach some of life's most well-known morals. Aesop's Falables is full of those morals, plus many more! While the show is obviously fun, and hilarious, and full of rock-and-roll, the heart of the show is really still in these morals, specifically the last one: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. I can't think of anything that matters more than teaching kids - and reminding adults - that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
What inspires you about theatre
ASHLEY: Honestly, my favorite thing about theatre is the collaboration. lt is impossible to create without engaging and thinking about others at every level of a production. It draws you out of yourself into uncomfortable territory. It asks you to take big risks and dare greatly, all with no promise of success, only a dream of creation and connection. Doing that with others is liberating! You realize that your community is going to be there to support you through the process, and essentially, you each make each other better. You're able to build off one another's ideas and inspirations, and create something tangible that you can share with others. It really is mystical and magical, but the thrill of it all, the highs and lows are exhilarating and truly push you to grow as a person.
BOBBY: Theatre to me - especially theatre for young audiences - is the ultimate inspiration tool. Showing the audience, live and in person, that you can be anyone, and do anything is so much more than just entertaining. It can be life changing. I'm living proof.
What has been the biggest joy working on this show?
ASHLEY: Epiphanies. I LOVE when you have been discussing or working on something with an actor and you see the moment where it clicks for them. Even better is when you're working through a moment, and an actor introduces something totally knew that inspires the rest of us, or makes me think about something in a different way. That give and take, and feeding off, and elevating each other is intoxicating! It fills me with the purest sense of joy!
BOBBY: The biggest joy working on this show for me has been seeing the kids grow in confidence and character throughout the process. These kids are already the cream of the crop for their age and experience level, and the steps they've taken to create their characters and command the stage is really impressive.
What has been the biggest challenge?
ASHLEY: The weather! Holy cow! 7 cancelled rehearsals is a lot. But it's also reminded us of the value of rest, and pushed us to raise our expectations!
BOBBY: You mean beside having a week's worth of rehearsals cancelled due to bad weather?
What is WhatFun! theatre and how has it informed and prepared you to work on this show?
ASHLEY: WhatFun! Theatre is the Theatre for Young Audiences company my husband Bobby and I started. We met working on these types of shows in South Korea, and while we both had previous experience with youth theatre, this experience really cemented our passion for theatre for youth and families! We believe that Theatre for Young Audiences should be: smart, approachable, artistic, and fun! Our work in Korea and with WhatFun! has taught us an important lesson - kids are smart, and what they consume matters! They are just as discerning as audience members as educated adults, and they won't hold back their feelings! They are capable of understanding so much more than we give them credit for. At the same time, they experience joy on such a boundless and uninhibited level. They will embrace imagination and suspended reality and playfullness more than most adults.
BOBBY: WhatFun! Theatre is a theatre for young audiences company created and run by my wife, Ashley, and me. Ashley and I have been working very closely in the world of TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) for many years now, and while most of the time our shows are performed by adults for kids and families, it has prepared us very well for what kids enjoy, and the kind of lessons they respond to the best.
What is it like having your wife/husband as your main collaborative partner?
ASHLEY: It has truly been one of the most enriching experiences. We worked together before we were a couple, so we already knew a lot about each other's communication styles. I actually think part of the reason we fell in love was through witnessing each other's work ethic and passion. He is truly my perfect match in work and in life. We have enough commonality that we get where each other are coming from, and we have a similar standard of work. But our skills and personalities balance each other out nicely. We definitely have different approaches to creating, but luckily they marry together well (pun totally intended)!!
BOBBY: It's the dream. Being a theatrical performer and creator, I can't imagine having a partner who doesn't understand or appreciate the challenges, joys, and general ins-and-outs of the business. We are able to communicate and collaborate very easily, and can help each other out whenever we have troubles in our individual jobs.
Anything else you’d like to share?
ASHLEY: It has been wonderful to work with the DJT kids! They are all incredible and inspiring and we have become better people through this process!
BOBBY: Working with Davenport Junior Theatre has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I grew up in Alabama, so I came into this contract with little-to-no expectations, and I have been consistently blown away by the professionalism and quality of every aspect of this theatre and school. This is definitely the place to go if you want your child involved theatre, or just to come out of their shell and have a lot of fun! I can't recommend DJT highly enough in any capacity.