We, at Brown Box, believe that all people deserve easy access to the arts and the community benefits that they foster. Brown Box Theatre Project’s mission is to break down barriers that separate the masses from live theatre by bringing the very best in performance, design, and collaboration to unconventional venues and underserved destinations to reach the widest audience possible. Brown Box Theatre Project creates high-quality theatre and delivers our work directly to communities to expand the reach of impactful, professional performing arts. We implement a bold approach to our productions that connects audiences and artists through vibrant and enlightening experiences to transform the way theatre is created and consumed.
We see theatre as a democratic art form. We believe that theater does not live in the academy but in the streets. Unfortunately, professional theater in this country has been contracted to a handful of geographic locations, leaving the impression that it is the exclusive domain of the elite. We want to battle this misconception. Like the traveling medieval troupes that brought their shows from the cities to the villages on the back of a wagon, we load up our truck and bring theatre to the people. We are not in the business of discriminating: our repertoire includes the classical and the contemporary, the celebrated and the obscure. Our taste tends toward sets that are simple, characters that provoke, and language that resonates. Anything that does not fit in the truck gets left behind.
Brown Box works with Boston based talent to develop a diverse range of high quality theatre. These productions serve the Boston community and then tour in order to share all that the Boston Theatre Scene has to offer with audiences in Maryland, Delaware, and other communities that crave the performing arts.
It is the tour that makes this company so special, being able to bring a theatrical experience directly into the community.
– Marge Dunn, Macbeth
Growing up along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Kyler Taustin witnessed firsthand the lack of accessible, professional theatre in the area. While Ocean City and its surrounding regions had no lack of tourist attractions, there were few sources of professional theatre anywhere on the Delmarva Peninsula. After studying theatre at Emerson College in Boston, Taustin took it upon himself to bring stories of the unheard voice to those with limited access to them. In 2009, Taustin founded Brown Box Theatre Project and began producing high-quality theatre in major cities and touring those productions to Ocean City and beyond in an attempt to fill that void.
The Early Years
Brown Box Theatre Project’s premier production, the new work Belly Full of Stones, was developed and performed in Manhattan before touring to Berlin, Maryland, where it was received with critical acclaim and a sold out audience. The response invigorated Taustin and the rest of the Brown Box team, as it proved how desperately the community craved the arts.
After a year of successful programming, Taustin had a new vision: a free outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, staged directly on the beach, captivating local and tourist audiences alike. With a dedicated cast and crew of theatre artists from Boston and New York City and funding from a handful of excited donors, Twelfth Night was a major success, fortifying the company’s belief that audiences would emerge for the arts once obstacles like cost and geography were eliminated.
In addition to providing its audience with exceptional art, Brown Box provides its artists with a real sense of community
– Angela Jaymes, Echoes
Brown Box Moves To Boston
After the production of Twelfth Night, Brown Box moved permanently to Boston, MA and started to focus on honing their artistic, geographic, and logistical goals. Brown Box adopted a model centered around an annual free Shakespeare tour and supplemented by a variety of contemporary and new works, all of which would explore diverse perspectives, tell vibrant and enlightening stories, and continue to break down the barriers that separate the masses from live theatre. This unconventional model allows Brown Box to use the vast artistic resources of the city to cast, rehearse, and produce their productions before delivering them to communities in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and beyond.
Since settling in Boston, Brown Box has collaborated with arts centers and other properties that share a belief in accessible and public art. In Massachusetts, Brown Box has partnered with Boston Properties and the Boston Planning and Development Agency to become an integral part of the activation efforts along the Fort Point Channel. This partnership allows Brown Box to produce completely free productions for the public, primarily in unconventional and exciting spaces, and directly contributes to the city’s ambitious revitalization efforts in this area. In Maryland, a pivotal collaboration with the Ocean City Center for the Arts provides Brown Box with a unique and accessible indoor space, allowing the company to bring art to the Ocean City community year round. Brown Box continues to grow their connections and collaborations in both the Greater Boston area and the Delmarva Peninsula, and currently partners with over twenty performance venues to create and present impactful, professional, and accessible performing arts productions.
In 2013, Brown Box went international, launching its official relationship as a sister company to Ícaro Compañía Teatral in Querétaro, Mexico. With Ícaro, Brown Box has created bilingual productions of devised and scripted work for audiences in both nations. The most recent collaboration, From Water to Dust, presented a collection of one-act plays by playwrights of Latin American descent, and was performed in both English and Spanish to audiences in the U.S. and Mexico. Through their work with Ícaro, Brown Box has furthered their mission to amplify the unheard voice, spanning nations and languages.
Each year, Brown Box productions grow in size and reach, and now the company regularly tours their work into communities and schools throughout Eastern Massachusetts and the entire Delmarva Peninsula. The Project, which was once funded by a Kickstarter and the creativity of a few dedicated young artists, has grown exponentially, thanks to the ever-growing need for impactful and accessible art and generous assistance from local arts councils, community foundations, businesses, and municipal governments. Brown Box’s theatrical seasons continue to provide essential programming for all the areas they reach, breaking down barriers and enriching the cultural landscape of each community.
Brown Box’s potential is limitless.
– Gigi Watson, The Taming of the Shrew
Brown Box Value Statement
Brown Box Theatre Project is founded on the core value of arts access. Our tenure has focused on delivering free and affordable professional performing arts programming to audiences who are confronted by geographic or financial barriers that prevent them from attending the theatre. As we grow as an organization in this polarized society, Brown Box Theatre Project is committed to expanding our efforts by tackling all barriers, foraudiences and artists, thus creating a more inclusive environment for all.
We have the opportunity to expose people to different kinds of theatre by artists of various races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to execute theatre that breaks down the reality that theatre is for and by the elite.
We believe in accessibility and radical inclusivity. Within our model and financial capacity, we strive to achieve this goal. In our efforts to combat systemic exclusion and unconscious biases, Brown Box has implemented:
An Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy
A Stipend Equity policy – our tiered stipend policy prevents anyone doing the same amount of work from being paid less than a colleague performing comparable tasks no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, ability, or sexual orientation
Direct outreach and invitations to artists – specifically to marginalized artists who have not historically been represented on our stage
Interviews with artists – to learn the obstacles faced by artists when contemplating application for a position at Brown Box
Flexible and multiple Callback schedules/dates
Direct outreach to colleges and universities
Large and Dyslexic friendly fonts for sides and scripts
We know we have more work to do. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to see and make theatre; we know that not all our productions reflect this value of our organization, even with these continued efforts. We have taken forward steps and also struggled to achieve inclusivity goals, but we are dedicated to improving. Our current efforts are focused on improving representation of trans and non-binary performers and actors of color in our productions, though we will continue to strive to break down barriers to access for other marginalized communities as well.
Over the last 5 years:
25% of roles in Brown Box contemporary productions have been filled by performers who are POC, trans, and/or non-binary artists
15% roles in Brown Box Shakespeare productions have been filled by performers who are POC, trans, and/or non-binary artists – only 3% in leading roles
Over the next 5 years:
Brown Box will fill 40% of roles in contemporary productions with performers who are POC, trans, and/or non-binary artists
Brown Box will fill 35% of roles in Shakespeare productions with performers who are POC, trans, and/or non-binary artists – with a minimum of 25% in leading roles
Each season will have no less than 20% of the roles filled by actors who are POC, trans, and/or non-binary artists
Our outreach efforts have resulted in awareness of the obstacles under our control that our model disproportionately present to artists from marginalized communities, and we will strive to overcome those obstacles in the following ways:
Play Selection – while Brown Box will continue to produce Shakespeare plays each year, we will uphold strict standards in our pillars to select plays that share the unheard voice. These plays should achieve this goal by offering more opportunity for actors of color and/or be plays written by and starring artists of color. We will also increase educational opportunities surrounding Shakespeare texts for any artist whose previous education or experience has not included classical text training, so that these artists can be competitive for the Shakespeare tours.
Touring – Brown Box will continue its efforts to increase stipends for all touring talent so as to decrease the financial strain caused by leaving a day job for an extended period of time
We are working to make all changes which are immediately possible while planning for those improvements which are currently beyond our means. In every way and at every opportunity, we will implement policies and practices that directly combat the obstacles that our model disproportionately present to artists of color and marginalized communities.
We are proud of our efforts and the benefits we provide to communities; we are eager to increase those efforts and benefits as we progress to serve our mission in its fullest capacity.
The Brown Box is open.
For more information about our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, or with any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact our Associate Managing Director, Angela Harrington, at Angela@brownboxtheatre.org