Featured Member: The Mighty Quinn Foundation

The Mighty Quinn Foundation is the 501c(3) behind the Stratford-based Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, a summer theater program for college students; and the New Works Lab @ Stratford, a program to support playwrights and directors creating new writing. In 2016, it takes the reins for the town’s theater program, In the Spotlight, a 30-year-old, town-run theatre program for 7-12th graders. Wright operates the foundation with her husband, Chris Rooney, and their children.

Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford 2016 Mighty Quinn FoundationCAGCT: The foundation is named for your son Quinn, who died of a rare brain cancer in 2012. Tell us about why theatre.

SW: For most of Quinn’s life we lived in Stratford and Quinn grew up playing on the grounds of the Shakespeare theatre. He would mow the lawn when it was in disrepair. He loved theatre. He even wrote an impassioned letter to the people at the festival: why don’t you have more young people involved?

Because if you have young people involved, their parents will come to the show. It will sell more tickets. After he died, we wanted to create something to honor his spirit and joy.

CAGCT: Why did you choose Shakespeare?
SW: We approached two friends of Quinn’s who were recent college graduates. We had an idea of doing a theatre program on the festival grounds. They researched programs around the country and the world, and came up with the framework. It is filling a niche that had not been created elsewhere.

(The program is a six-week, educationally intensive workshop on the grounds of the former American Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford. Students take daily classes in Shakespeare performance and contemporary ensemble theater- making and perform two Shakespeare plays in repertoire at the end of the program.)

CAGCT: You lease space from the town at “The White House” on the Shakespeare grounds for your academy. The building has had some improvements. How is the space?

It’s a work in progress but it is great to have the space. We would like to have the ability to do programming throughout the year. Workshops for high school students to learn how to audition. Offer weekend classes for adult actors, that sort of thing. We want to keep expanding theatre programming, but we want to be sure we do it well.

Urinetown by In the Spotlight Stratford Mighty Quinn Foundation

CAGCT: The foundation’s latest addition is the long-running town theatre program, “In the Spotlight,” which many Stratford-ites know well. How did that come about?

SW: The town did not have the funding to keep it. So they reached out to us. Tammy Trojanowski will be helping to transition it. Three of my four children performed through the program, including Quinn.

They do a musical production in the spring/summer every year for youth. The one we are doing this year is “Urinetown” (which is a really awful name for a terrific show, by the way).

Alumni from the program are doing an Indiegogo campaign. And because there is not a theater that has air conditioning in Stratford, we are going to be doing the performances at the Klein Theatre in Bridgeport.

Auditions were in May and the program runs June 13 through July 23. It overlaps with the Shakespeare Academy.

CAGCT: It sounds like you’ve hit the ground running with this program.

SW: We have tons of very dedicated “In the Spotlight” parents, alumni and advisory board members! They are helping us do different parts of the program, helping us to keep the program alive.

CAGCT: You mentioned that you have other family involved in the foundation as well.

SW: Joe lives in the city so he isn’t involved in the day-to-day. He is our treasurer. Our son, Brendan, is the residential life coordinator. Katie, who is a junior at Laurelton, she does babysitting for the Master Class teachers and does anything needed to help things run smoothly. She helps with taking photos. And of course [my husband] Chris [Rooney] is the Board Chairman.

CAGCT: That is one dedicated family! Thanks Sue!

A good look at “Barnwood”

Erin & Vin Scimeca of Barnwood & Bangles

At our June meeting, we got an up close and personal look at our members, Erin and Vin Scimeca’s work. They are the owners of “Barnwood and Bangles,” a custom furniture and home decor company, with items made from reclaimed wood and other beautiful recycled items.

Upcycled furniture vintage Connecticut

Erin and Vin both have “day” jobs, but you can see they are really dedicated to the work they are doing “on the side”… it’s visible in everything they have done in their own house.

The wooden flooring in the kitchen is gorgeous and completely redone with recycled palette wood.

They hosted a holiday pop-up shop in their space with great success.

They’ve built a beautiful seating area in their Lordship-area backyard, including a “stargazer”… reclaimed from their daughter Kate’s old bunkbed.

Brand and Bangles Stargazer converted Bunkbed Arts Guild
You have to take a good, close look at just about everything in their family room… because it’s probably been handcrafted by the couple: everything from the bar to the long table and bench, from the reclaimed wood coatrack. In fact, the whole, amazingly beautiful room was once a garage!

Erin and Vin will be bringing Barnwood and Bangles to our August show Artists & Artisans in Paradise, but I’d recommend you connect with them soon. Their work is sure to be big demand before you know it.

Spring is Calling: Call for Artists & Crafters

Spring May Arts & Crafts Market Sale Stratford CT
The birds are reminding us that spring and summer craft fair season is warming up!

We are happy to announce a Call for Artists & Fine Crafters for our Spring Arts & Crafts Market, to be held Sunday, May 3rd, at 10 a.m. INSIDE the Baldwin Center, Stratford.

Just in time for Mother’s Day shopping, this event is a collection of artists and crafters with superior skills in the handmade crafts. We are accepting a limited number of jewelers.

A great deal is available, by the way. Anyone who applies and is accepted to both our Spring Art & Craft Market and the prestigious Artists & Artisans in Paradise event this summer will receive discounted registration fees.

Out thanks to our talented guild member, Susan Ernst, who supplied the gorgeous artwork for our poster. You can meet Susan at the event and enjoy her printmaking and handmade papers.  You can buy her work online (including this songbird silhouette) at her Etsy shop.