Buntport Theater’s Brian Colonna doesn’t feel like his group is often recognized for the original work they do – at least not until their 2006 MasterMind award. “The way we promote ourselves is word of mouth and recognition in the paper. It’s a great boon to have your name in the paper in a different place than the theater reviews. For theater, there’s some stereotypes about it being stuffy and too expensive, so when it’s printed in a place where a different crowd is going to see it, I think it’s very helpful.”
The award was good for visibility, and great for the bottom line. “The prize financially is enough that it makes a big difference to anyone,” Colonna says. “I don’t think there’s anything else really like it in town.” Buntport put its award money into its operating budget, and used it to underwrite two shows – “which is huge,” Colonna says.
He’s watched the Denver theater community grow beyond a place where people work until they are ready for a larger market. There’s now a big enough market in Denver for talented artists to stay and be supported. “There’s a sense of possibility here, which is nice,” he says. “We have a group of people that support us and that includes other actors and actresses.”
Since MasterMind, Buntport’s budget has gotten a little bigger. “As a result, we’ve been able to offer a little more programming than before, so it keeps the doors open, which is what it comes down to year after year.” They’ve also seen audience numbers grow.
Buntport is now preparing for a new show that opens in May, which is a version of The Three Musketeers. Until then, they have their ongoing programs like Teacher’s Pet, an open mic night, and their live, weekly sitcom Starship Troy. They’ve also recently collaborated with students creating a show on P.T. Barnum at Colorado College, and Buntport actors entertain guests the last Friday of every month at the Denver Art Museum.
Of late, Colonna has been following the work of local director Brian Freeland, who puts on politically minded shows. Colonna appreciates theater with a message. Simply because of the format – with information coming from a live person, rather than a sound bite or news clip – he thinks theater has a unique opportunity to make a difference. -- Jessica Centers