Winning MasterMind last year gave Jessica Robblee hope, and enabled her to continue the tRUNks project – a live comic book that’s based, in part, on audience suggestions – at Buntport Theater. “When you’re trying to do something unconventional and outside the lines of how people typically make their living, it can be tricky to make ends meet,” she says. “MasterMind is designed to give people an easier shot to keep trying to do that.”
Robblee used the money to pay her bills, which had become a constant source of worry and fear that had made her start to question and compromise how much time she could afford to put into the project. “And then an opportunity comes along like MasterMinds or supporters or grants, and that encouragement is what lets you know it is worth putting your time into, those reminders are really necessary.”
Luckily, the artist community in Denver offers up constant reminders. “People understand greatly how difficult it is to do what you’re doing,” Robblee says. “They see your need and step into it in many respects. They also are pretty darn excited to stay involved with other people’s artwork that they believe in. There’s a real caring among the artists that I work with, especially at the theater.” Robblee sees a curiosity among Denver artists too. When they see something new and intriguing, they want to be a part of it.
TRUNks is now in the middle of its third season, and its numbers are up significantly. “It’s a big deal that we have more audience members. Without that increase, there’s no way we keep going.” The show’s format is the same, but the company’s ability to communicate and write collaboratively has improved greatly. “We’re always struggling to make writing better,” Robblee says.
She’s also been teaching dance and theater with the Colorado Harmony Project at Cheltenham Elementary School, and working with Denver Open Media on school partnerships. And there are a lot of local projects she finds herself curious about, like the Curious New Voices program that fosters young playwrights at Curious Theatre Company, and the No Holds Bard Company, a touring company dedicated to the original performance conditions of Shakespeare’s actors. -- Jessica Centers