This month, we caught up with the Sam’s Room writing team to find out what work the group has been doing on the show since October and to find out more about their reading at NAMT member Red Mountain Theatre Company’s inaugural Human Rights New Works Festival. Sam’s Room was featured in the 2017 Festival and the writing team is made up of Dale Sampson, Trey Coates-Mitchell, Caitlin Marie Bell and Marc Campbell.
What has the post Festival response to Sam’s Room been like?
The response has been extremely positive and broadly helpful and we were confident in the presentation. What we weren’t expecting were so many opportunities from different angles. The Sam’s Room story and the way we tell it happens to involve eclectic communities outside of the theatre, such as the pop music industry, the National Speech and Debate Association, and the special needs community. NAMT not only catapulted us into the business side of the project, but gave us wonderful introductions into these other worlds as well.
Did presenting Sam’s Room at the Festival help you discover anything new about the show? What work have you done on it since then?
Absolutely. One major thing we learned is that the show can appeal to all audiences. We experienced everything from people dancing in their seats to powerful emotional responses from all age groups. We’ll never forget watching the sweet older couple in front of us head banging to our 90’s grunge song “Freak.” Immediately after NAMT, we ran a developmental production of the full script and score produced by NAMT member New York Theatre Barn, the Cell and Out of the Box Theatrics. This was the first time we presented the work from beginning to end, worked with a live onstage band, added technical elements, applied notes for next audiences, and beyond! So. Much. Work. Since NAMT.
Sam’s Room has a few upcoming developmental opportunities including a March presentation at Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Human Rights New Works Festival—what can you tell us about what is next?
The Human Rights New Works Festival is defined as “a conversation and celebration of that which unites us all—our humanity.” Sam’s Room is that same celebration. This will be our first opportunity to experience Sam’s Room without direct creative involvement, providing us with invaluable insights and perspectives into our process. Having spent years working to create something unique, we need to test how our work translates from page to stage so theaters around the globe can spread the Sam’s Room message. We recently secured representation and will be working towards our commercial production with our original team at the same time. Aside from that, we’re in conversations for a variety of opportunities including creating a version of Sam’s Room to tour schools that aim to bring awareness and inspiration to the most impressionable, pursuing ways to allow the music to live independently in the music industry, and arranging developmental options to further the show.
What are you as a team most excited for as you look towards the show’s future?
The thrilling part of our journey continues to be the perspective we gain when reflecting back on our show’s growth thus far. We always have the realization that with every goal achieved comes a new and exciting goal to be conquered. Our one-hundred percent quickly becomes seventy-five percent, and we roll up our sleeves so our hands can work to raise the bar and our brains can work to aim higher than before. NAMT was an opportunity to dream big, focus in, and do the work required to deliver our show to the world. It is this work that drives the future of Sam’s Room and provides us with the momentum to continue creating theatre intended to examine the human spirit.
Why should everyone mark their calendars and make plans to see Sam’s Room in the coming year?
We are changing what musical theatre can be. This story is about empowerment. We strive to give strength to those who may struggle to find it. Empowering a group of people who struggle to communicate their every thought is a rewarding and enlightening experience. The reality is, we all struggle to communicate and to express our thoughts and emotions clearly and healthily. Our show takes place in 1998, but today, most of us communicate with the click of a button every five minutes. It is easy to take these advantages for granted. We hope to expand Sam’s Room from a show into a community. We strive to partner with teachers, families, non-profits, educational programs, organizations and schools. There is limitless power in the human voice. Let’s use it for good. We hope to see you inside Sam’s Room!