I’ve been asking everyone I know to donate to Dad’s Garage Theatre.
For those who don’t know, Dad’s Garage is a comedy theatre company in intown Atlanta. We produce original theatrical productions 52 weeks a year, and have for 19 years. What Dad’s does can be silly, absurd, and sometimes uncouth. But we’re a loud voice in the arts, particularly for young and underserved audiences.
In 2013, we were priced out of the neighborhood we had helped rebuild. Our old building was purchased and razed to make way for modern condos and restaurants, which will doubtlessly look much nicer than our old cinderblock warehouse theatre did.
To be fair, the old shithole probably deserved it.
Currently Dad’s Garage has no permanent home. But we’re still producing shows every week we can find a stage, usually at 7 Stages in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood. For our 2014 season—our first as a homeless company—Atlantans voted Dad’s Garage Atlanta’s Best Improv and, astoundingly, Atlanta’s Best Theatre Company. I’ll be honest, there are waaay better theatre companies than us by almost every measure. But I think Atlanta’s opinion of Dad’s Garage, warranted or not, speaks volumes.
To fulfill our artistic vision, Dad’s Garage needs a permanent home. We think we’ve found it. Now we need to buy it. And that’s why I’ve been asking everyone to donate to Dad’s Garage via our Kickstarter Campaign.
But today, I’m not asking anyone to donate to Dad’s Garage. I’m asking everyone to invest in Dad’s Garage.
Investing in Dad’s Garage is investing in the Old Fourth Ward. With decades of gentrification taking place on its borders, the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood was long overlooked—in part due to a reputation for drugs, crime, and prostitution. A sad reality for what was once the most vibrant district in Atlanta, a model of cultural integration, and the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr.
Finally in the 2000s, Atlanta began to invest in O4W. New businesses, bars, a sweet park, and the Beltline moved in. Even the recession didn’t stop the development, though it probably slowed it. Now the neighborhood is becoming known as a center for innovation and reinvention. That means the neighborhood needs a theatre—not just as a cultural hub and a source of entertainment and pride. Also as a business generator: Dad’s Garage can bring tens of thousands of hip, hungry patrons to the Old Fourth Ward every year.
Investing in Dad’s Garage is investing in the arts. Some people don’t connect what we do at Dad’s to “art.” I get it—one of my best performances was the night Amber Nash sat on me on stage and I farted so loud the back row’s ears hurt. But consider this: aside from fart improv for sold out houses of young audiences, we also debut multiple world premiere plays every year. We also create impromptu shows, musicals, and interactive theatre experiences. We do a live kids’ show where the kids can steer the story—and even be in it.
That’s art! And it’s art that people who don’t normally like “art” like! Anyone who knows the state of the arts knows that somebody needs to be creating new patrons of the arts, not just living off the dwindling (and sadly, dying) support of the old guard of benefactors. Dad’s Garage can be one of those gateways to the arts.
Investing in Dad’s Garage is investing in Atlanta. Last week we heard that Georgia Shakespeare is closing its doors. The question that keeps ringing in my head isn’t “Why!?” It’s “What the fuck do we want this city to be!?”
A vibrant, growing city needs culture. It needs arts. It needs unique experiences you can’t find other places. And it needs to continually attract the young, dynamic people who like all of the aforementioned.
If you are an Atlantan, you should be mourning the death of Georgia Shakes—even if you “hate that stuff.” Because having a world-class Shakespearean theatre helped make Atlanta a world-class city.
In our own curious way, Dad’s Garage Theatre is trying hard to make Atlanta a world-class city. You may know Dad’s as a place to drink a few beers, chill, and laugh until your sides hurt. But you may not know that we send performers to festivals and showcases around the country and around the world. In the comedy universe, Dad’s is well-known standout. In the theatre world, Dad’s Garage’s ability to attract a young, diverse audience is legendary.
We’re one bright little thread in the tapestry of Atlanta. How many threads can we pull out until the whole thing starts to unravel?
I don’t want to find out. I just want us to make Atlanta a cooler place to live.
Investing in Dad’s Garage is investing in laughter. Let’s say you don’t give a damn about the Old Fourth Ward, the Arts, or Atlanta. I hope we can at least agree on one thing: laughter is good.
I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but every now and then I can feel the oppressive weight of the world. War is rampant on our little planet. Politics is hatefully dysfunctional. Ebola is surely leading to a zombie invasion. TNT cancelled Dallas.
Sometimes I just need to laugh. I love that Dad’s Garage Theatre is always there to help me, or anyone else, do just that. There may be better causes out there, but I think we undervalue the importance of an organization that is singularly focused on making people smile, laugh, and maybe pee on themselves just a little bit.
So whether you are a regular audience member at Dad’s Garage or not, I hope you will consider making an investment at any level in the future of the Old Fourth Ward, the Arts, Atlanta, and a good ol’ belly-laugh.
You can do it right here.