SAPPHIRE HISTORY

The Sapphire Theatre Company was founded in 2008 by Bonnie Mill and David Orr in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. From the start, the organization has been community-focused, adaptable and entrepreneurial – this has provided a vastly varied history. Below are some of the Performances, Programs and Production Services projects we’re grateful to have done. (Listed from oldest at bottom to newest at top.)

VanGogh’s Bedroom at Newfields’ LUME Exhibit [2021-2022]

The LUME Indianapolis is a totally immersive exhibit that combines great art and cutting-edge technology with floor to ceiling projections of some of the most famous paintings in the world. Created by Australian-based Grande Experiences, The LUME opened in 2021 featuring the work of Vincent van Gogh.

In addition to a hallway of angled mirrors, The Sapphire’s production team re-created an interactive 3-D set of Van Gogh’s bedroom as depicted in his three paintings The BedroomThe Bedroom in Arles and The Bedroom in Arles II. The Van Gogh Bedroom served as a finale to the LUME experience and featured three of Van Gogh’s other paintings replicated on canvases by The Sapphire’s David Orr. (Portrait of Milliet Second Lieutenant Of the ZouavesRocks with Oak Tree, and Self Portrait XIV).

 

STC (virtual) OPEN MIC NIGHTS [2020]

In response to COVID, our team created a live, virtual Open Mic Night series that ran for months in 2020. As a company, we keep our finger on the pulse of the community to be ready to serve the current needs – in 2020, the community needed to connect, to interact, to express artistically and to enjoy live moments of artistic expression. We responded with an ongoing, live and virtual talent show. With over 300 views per show (and over 5500 views total) this free, public series has been a way to provide entertainment and connectivity to audiences, and a safe stage for a variety of artists.

CLICK HERE to view the Playlist of STC OPEN MIC NIGHT Videos on YouTube

Downtown Indy’s CANAL AWAKENS [2019] 

Canal Awakens, produced by Downtown Indy, was a free event that encouraged attendees to get outside and explore many of the businesses, restaurants and attractions located along the 1.5-mile stretch of water. Attendees were given a Canal Awakens “passport” and map to enjoy activities and visit the businesses located along the waterway, providing family-friendly activities and giveaways. The Sapphire created a mini-park out of one of the grassy areas where our stilt-walkers and velocipede riders welcomed attendees to enjoy hula hoops, chalk art, music, lounge seating, bubbles and much more!

INDIANA STATEHOUSE Office of the Attorney General [2017-2018]

The Offices of the Attorney General in Indiana’s historical Statehouse was renovated by The Sapphire. We provided interior design, decorative painting and plaster restoration to all of the offices. The new look was a creative collaboration that compliments the building’s atrium, the supreme court and offices and the governor’s offices.

“What happened was a true transformation of a place that was neglected that has now been carefully, meticulously restored…. When you walk in there now, you feel a certain sense of grandeur, and also I feel a personal sense of pride that this is a piece of Indiana history.” Jeremy Brilliant, Director of Communications.

Check out this VIDEO about the project!

DRAMA CLUB! After-school Program  [2017-2018]

Since 2018, professional actors and teaching artists from The Sapphire has been teaching an after-school DRAMA CLUB for 3-6 graders at Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58 in collaboration with the Shepherd Community Center. ALL FUN! No auditions. No pressure. No fees to students or parents. Daniel A. Martin, Lead Teaching Artist, leads students to learn the basics of improvisation for the theatre, working together as an ensemble, creating characters and using the actor tools of body, mind and voice. This club is an overview designed to make playing drama games fun! Club members will get a chance to show off some of their new skills at the Club Showcase at the end of the semester.

As a totally mobile theatre company, The Sapphire makes our stage anywhere in the community!

TUNNEL of OPPRESSION at IUPUI [2017 to present]

IUPUI’s Tunnel of Oppression is an emotionally immersive experience of live interactive theatre in a safe environment. Student-researched and -created scenes performed by professional actors from The Sapphire lead into facilitated conversations where the audience takes center stage, asking questions and practicing communication skills. Participants will be challenged to give up their preconceived notions and take action to assess, prevent, and end oppression throughout the world.

PREENACTINDY [starting in 2017]

This free, one-of-a kind PreEnactment Theatre production spans three Indianapolis city blocks along 16th Street from the Monon Trail to Dr. Andrew J. Brown Ave. to help envision what a neighborhood OUGHT to be – just, equitable and economically vibrant.

PreEnactIndy is produced by the Harrison Center and directed by The Sapphire Theatre Co. with a cast of local professional theater groups. With numerous neighborhood partners, organizers and several performing arts educators, the event transforms vacant lots and buildings, existing businesses, street lanes and sidewalks and bring to life a section of the Monon16 neighborhood for a public gathering that gives attendees fully-immersive experiences of the active, healthy and well-designed neighborhood the area deserves.

VIDEO: Three Years of PreEnactIndy

TRAIL SKILLS ACADEMY – US and CA Federal Defenders [starting in 2017]

Beginning in 2017, The Sapphire has provided professional actors to augment the Trial Skills Academy training of Federal Defense Lawyers. We have worked with both the U.S. Courts’ Federal Defenders Training Office and the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. (FDSDI).  In these week-long, intensive trainings, our professional actors work at the direction of the academy’s faculty in creating immersive roleplay simulations for participants of the academy. 

 

It’s My City & Indy DO Day Events [2017]

The Sapphire played a creative leadership role in the 2017 It’s My Cityand Indy DO Day Events, from serving on the joint committee to advising other partners and participant, to creating award-winning interactive experiences in downtown Indianapolis. David Orr designed a highway billboard for the event, and on Indy DO Day, event attendess got to create an artistic replica of that billboard by adding decal people doing all kinds of activities to the communal art image. Mayor Joe Hogsett and mascots from all of Indy’s major sports teams played along. And on Virginia Avenue, David laid out the 4,050 foot chalk-art design along the sidewalk leading from downtown to Fountain Square. On Indy DO Day, Lilly volunteers had fun filling in the chalky masterpiece, which then won the Guinness Book record winner for largest chalk pavement art display.

STEAMbot & Dr. Edi [2016 – 2018]

When TechPoint Foundation for Youth asked us if we could create a giant, interactive robot and program to promote STEAM Education and their State Robotics Championship matches, we said “YES!” The result was an on-site mobile edu-tainment program – Dr. Edi Rhobotta & STEAMbot, her S.T.E.A.M.-powered robot. Dr. Edi and STEAMbot attended many Indiana Robotics events and eventually went to the VEX Worlds Robotics Championship, presented by the REC Foundation (Robotics Education & Competition).

The SPIRIT & PLACE FESTIVAL Performances [2016 & 2017]

The Spirit & Place Festival is an 11-day festival of events independently created and hosted by the community and supported by the Spirit & Place organization. Each year, the Festival chooses a theme that ties together all of the events offered — the theme of 2017 was “POWER” and in 2016 it was “HOME.” The Sapphire’s team created Picture This performances that embodied these themes and shone a spotlight on issues that are too rarely talked about: The POWER of CONSENT and REBUILDING HOME. These shows became the foundation of The Sapphire’s Voiceless Issues Programming.
 

The POWER of CONSENT: Empowering Students to Prevent Campus Assault [2017] – #POWERofCONSENT

This interactive performance with guided conversations is designed to raise awareness about the prevalence and prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. This program prepares both male and female students, parents and campus communities for safe and healthy university experiences, and was created in partnership with Planned Parenthood.

REBUILDING HOME: Managing Moral Injury & PTSD [2016] – #RebuildingHome + #HelpIndyVets’

Interactive performances and workshops fostering healthy communication and support for military members, veterans, their families, and their friends. Through the power of theatre, REBUILDING HOME uses effective techniques to create real-life, relatable learning experiences for veterans, families, and community members. Includes take-away information on Moral Injury. This program was created in partnership with Dr. Rita Nakashima-Brock.

PLAY GAMES! Workshop for Celebration at Tarkington Park [2017]

Have games – will travel! The Sapphire’s teaching artists engaged the crowds at the opening celebration of Indy’s Tarkington Park. Working with the Indy Parks and Recreation and Midtown Indy, we enhanced the day’s festivities with our PLAY GAMES education program that uses theatre games as teaching tools. This is a great example of how The Sapphire is easily able to enhance Indy’s festivals and celebrations.

COMMUNITY STAGES at Fall Creek Gardens [2016]

Community Stages was a performing arts playground that was programmed and open to the public all summer long. Multi-level, multi-purpose stages that were visually engaging and enjoyable with a giant maze, community table and chessboards with sets. Events and workshops were offered free to the community and included Theatre Game Nights, Garden Talks, Workshops on Presentation Skills, Reader’s Theatre, Yoga, community pitch-ins, and much more!

Sponsors and Partners included: Big Car Collaborative, Fall Creek Gardens, Reconnecting to Our Waterways (R.O.W.)

CICF’s IN Light IN for the Indianapolis Foundation [2016]

In honor of the 100th anniversary of The Indianapolis Foundation, CICF partnered with Northern Lights.mn to produce IN Light IN, a two-night interactive light festival on the downtown canal and The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick. With the help of generous sponsors and community partners, this festival was CICF’s gift to the community and celebration of 100 years of philanthropy, community and innovation.

The Sapphire provided stilt-walking entertainers for the celebration – all were costumed in festively colorful, LED-lit attire designed and fabricated by Catherine Fritsch of Mercurious Designs.

ADULT SWIM Indy [2013-2015]

ADULT SWIM Indy was a fully immersive performance art experience specially designed for young, urban professionals and cultural progressives. This extraordinary recess for adults was modern “hip happening” that brought to life The Sapphire’s vision for unique, engaging mobile performances. Over 2,500 attendees enjoyed live performances, wild characters lit up and on stilts, music, face-painting, food and beverages and so much more!

CLICK HERE to view the Playlist of ADULT SWIM Indy Videos on YouTube

FOWLER THEATER Renovation [2015]

The Fowler Theatre was originally built in 1940 in Fowler, Indiana. Over the years, the theater’s past grandeur was not maintained. By 2000, the business was in imminent danger of closure and further contributing to the overall decline of the town. The Prairie Preservation Guild, a not-for-profit group dedicated to rescuing the historical theater, took action in 2001 to keep low cost entertainment available in the community. The Sapphire became part of the renovation team, providing decorative painting, faux finishes and a feature mural. This project won a Cook Cup Award from Indiana Landmarks in 2016.

‘RAISE A LITTLE HELL’ Video – Rev. Payton’s Big Damn Band [2015]

Reverend Payton called out for Indiana’s wildest talent and we answered the call! See if you can spot Sapphire and Mr. Blue in the video Raise A Little Hell…! And check out all the featured talent from Indy in the final credits, including our friends from Blue Monkey Sideshow…WOW!) Indiana is AMAZING!!!

The LUXURIOUS UNDERPASS [2014]

As part of the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ “Vibrant Corridors” initiative, The Sapphire turned the cement pillars of New York Street’s underpass at I-65/I-70 into a luxurious pathway of marbled columns. This project was a partnership between the Arts Council, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and Lilly who supplied volunteer painters during their Lilly Day of Service. David Orr was the project designer and coordinator, working with the organizations and volunteers to create a visually pleasing pathway for all who traveled this “Luxurious Underpass.”

Check out this VIDEO about the project!

WONDERLAND at ArtSparkle and the ADDYs [2014]

Sponsored by the AAF Indianapolis (American Advertising Federation of Indianapolis), the American Advertising Awards(known as “the ADDYs”) honor excellence in advertising and cultivate the highest creative standards in the industry. The Sapphire partnered to create a WONDERLAND for this this fun, festive and fabulously designed event in 2014 with a fabricated “room of doors” entryway, miniature room photo booth and roaming characters – the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, and Alice and Mad Hatter on stilts!

In that same year, we helped the Indianapolis Art Center turn their ArtsPark at the into a WONDERLAND for their annual ArtSparkle gala. The White Rabbit, the Red Queen, and Alice and Mad Hatter on stilts all came to play and brought Absalom the Caterpillar. In addition to roaming characters, attendees also enjoyed the miniature room photo booth.

PICTURE THIS [2013]

PICTURE THIS® was created by David Llewellyn and provided by Community Health Network starting in 1984 as a process that uses theatre as a multi-functional tool for audiences to examine and explore complex issues. Bonnie Mill worked with this Community program between 1996-2000, eventually becoming the program’s assistant director. In 2013, The Sapphire legally acquired PICTURE THIS from Community Health Network with well wishes and hopes that the program would continue helping audiences of all types to improve communication on address difficult topics.

Check out this VIDEO about PICTURE THIS!

WARMfest White River Arts & Music Festival [2013]

Presented by White River Arts and Music, this 3-day festival in Broad Ripple Park featured countless live music performances on five stages, arts and vintage marketplace, local restaurants and food trucks, riverboat cruises, waterfront exhibitions, yoga, the Ripple Effect 4-mile run and walk, and more. The event was created to raise funds for the revitalization of Broad Ripple’s Waterfront. The Sapphire created three roving characters – Carl J. Fisher who rode a penny-farthing bicycle the White River Man and Woman on stilts – who entertained attendees and informed them of the environmental mission of the Carl J. Fisher Society.

ORACLE of Delphi [2012]blue silhouette of female in white hood with blue flamed torch

In the center of ancient Greece was the holy city of Delphi.
In the mountains above Delphi was a sacred Temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
In the center of the Temple was an Oracle channeling his prophesy.

Now, the Oracle of ancient Delphi returns to her temple gardens to bestow the wisdom of Apollo once again. The ancient Pythia, or prophetess, was the embodiment of light and enlightenment…she was the voice of Apollo as well as the embodiment of goodness. Step up to the Oracle, and take a step back in time!

Please contact us if you are interested in bringing this mobile, interactive theatre performance to your location or event.

PERCUSSION -n- PERFORMANCE [2011]

Let your inner artist out to play! With sound, movement and action, we created a playground for the artistic mind. We invited participants to jump into the groovy experience that will engage the body, ignite the imagination, and inspire creativity. This workshop was a collaboration with Kris and Jamison Edwards and was designed to engage special needs adults of all ability levels.

LYSISTRATA [2008]

The Sapphire’s premiere production was LYSISTRATA, produced to bring attention to the Iraq War during the presidential elections, in a transformed empty retail space in the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. Since these humble beginnings, The Sapphire has continued to be dedicated social justice advocacy in much of the work we do.

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