Incite Productions is a relatively unknown collection of artists and theater technicians who leave their mark all over Denver in unique, creative and often bizarre ways.
They’ve floated down Delaware Street in a makeshift boat dressed as George Washington. They’ve danced on the steps of the Anthem Blue Cross building and filmed the action as part of a site-specific collaboration with Tigress Dance. They’ve painted on the walls of Buntport Theater, and they’ve hung banners and rocket ships behind performing bands; most recently, some members donned parrot costumes and dances as part of a SPELLS performance on CPR’s OpenAir.
Incite Productions comprises Katie Webster, Justin Hicks, Lindsay Senior and Keli Sequoia, all employees of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the group cannot pinpoint an exact mission statement or ethos behind its collaboration. Yet the work, no matter how quirky or diverse, carries a unifying theme and showcases the talents and personalities of everyone involved.
“Right now, it’s more of an artists’ collective, so we can be a lot more selective with who we work with,” Hicks says. “We are lucky to be in a community that has a lot of amazing artists. It feels like the connections we make are organic. People understand us and we understand them, and that’s why we cross paths.”
Hicks says that while his desire to help out the artistic community in Denver has always been present, it wasn’t fully realized until he was approached by Steve “Faceman” Schnepel, who has always shown a penchant for bringing new artistic angles to shows with his band, FaceMan.
“I was talking to more and more people about creating sets for performances,” says Hicks, whose love for carpentry and set-building began at a young age. “I was then introduced to Steve, and he asked us to build him a shark.”
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FaceMan’s Megalodon was created using recycled cardboard and wood. The creation accompanied the group on stage for several performances before being shot and burned on a frozen lake for FaceMan’s “Wild and Hunting” video. The whole experience sparked the idea for Incite Productions.
“That collaboration basically created our business model,” Hicks says. “After that, we kept meeting artists that had these huge ideas but had no clue how to go from A to B. That was where our skill set lies, and we also have these resources at the DCPA where we learn how to do this stuff every day.”
After the Megalodon, FaceMan hired Incite several more times, asking the group to create a giant shoebox diorama, a rocket ship, life-sized puppets and a large pink Fight Club-themed soap bar that sat on stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre when FaceMan played Film on the Rocks. Incite continues to work with musicians such as Strange Americans, Bud Bronson & the Good Timers, Poets Row and a host of other notable Denver bands.
Because most bands have limited time and resources, the approach for Webster varies drastically from her work at the DCPA, but it’s a challenge she readily accepts.
“Doing productions with Incite has really inspired me to make resources go further,” she says. “I love how we can reuse and repurpose old props, costumes and sets. When I can pull something out of the warehouse and dress it up again, I love that. Our trash is full of potential. Sometimes you can turn old cardboard into gold.”
Hicks notes that their years of experience as professional theater technicians can be intimidating to some artists and musicians who have always taken a more DIY approach.
“Sometimes when you’re very professional about things, you can scare artists away,” he says. “But the people who really want to make it happen will jump on it immediately.”
Incite’s current project will be unveiled during the Denver Tool Library’s one-year anniversary. The celebration and accompanying show will take place on First Friday in April at Su Teatro and will feature performances from longtime Incite collaborators Lee Avenue, Safe Boating Is No Accident, Strange Americans and, of course, FaceMan.
While the group has been involved in the event’s planning, Hicks says that the idea for what Incite would build came largely from the Tool Library’s Cody Noa and owner Sarah Steiner.
“They wanted a giant baby since it’s their first birthday, and we love doing giant things,” he says. “It’s being built by volunteers, and we’re using the Tool Library’s tools and their space. The baby will be built in the style of Wayne White, who designed the Pee-wee’s Playhouse set [and] is a huge inspiration to all of us.”
The Tool Library celebration is an extension of the Incite members’ mission of working with bands, businesses and artists that they care about and want to help succeed. Moving forward, as Incite continues to establish itself as an artistic entity and valuable resource, they hope to keep those values front and center.
“The people we work with, we want to work with, and we will always make it happen regardless of budget. We want to help them create something amazing and make it happen,” Webster says.
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“And we will always work with Faceman,” Hicks adds. “We owe him a huge debt.”
Denver Tool Library’s First Anniversary
With Lee Avenue, Safe Boating Is No Accident, Strange Americans and FaceMan, 6 p.m. Friday, April 1, Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219.
Watch Incite Productions' Megalodon burn in FaceMan's video below.